The Amazing Secret of the Tuareg Tagelmust Scarf
While Morocco is not often thought of the territory of the historically nomadic Tuareg people of the Sahara Desert, the southern Moroccan province of Zagora, Morocco does in fact have a Tuareg population. Known as "The Door to the Sahara Desert," the tiny town of M'Hamid is the gateway to Zagora, and is one of the legendary trade routes of North Africa. For millennia, Tuareg passed through Zagora on their way to massive marketplace of Marrakech, Morocco.
Inevitably, some of those Tuareg who passed through Zagora decided to stay, and over time Tuareg people mixed with the native Berber (Amazigh) people. In Zagora there are three tribes: Tuareg, Berbere, and Bedouin nomad. A significant portion of Zagora is now of mixed Tuareg/Berber ancestry, including Silver Sahara's co-founder, Mohamed El Fassi.
Zagora also continues its traditional role as a trade route, and it is not uncommon for Tuareg from Mauritania and other southern Saharan countries to bring traditional desert wares to Zagora. These wares include the very popular and iconic Tuareg Tagelmust Scarves, Tuareg Djellaba (sometimes referred to as a BouBou) and the silver Tuareg Cross.
The amazing blue color of the Tuareg Tagelmust scarves often enchants visitors to this region, and are highly sought after by anyone who catches a glimpse of their otherworldly blue color. The beautiful blue is colorfast, and will not run or fade with repeated washings. In fact, it seems that over time, the Tuareg scarf only gets softer and more beautiful.
The material and dyes for the Tuareg scarf remain traditional and all-natural to this day. For the famous blue color, the Tuareg use a process of ground turquoise stone and natural indigo dye. This is mixed with a vinegar to set the color, imbedding it in the fabric and making it colorfast. For the dark blue Tuareg scarves with black ends, natural kohl is used to create the darker color.
The scarves then air-dry in the Saharan sun, which creates the one-of-a-kind dip-dye effect. Every Tuareg scarf is unique, as the dye pattern can never be perfectly replicated. To learn exactly how to make the scarf dye, one would have to study directly with the artisan. This is not a recipe that is written down; it can only be learned by experience.
At Silver Sahara, we sell only the authentic Tuareg scarves made in the Sahara using the time-honored indigenous techniques. We source directly from the Tuareg artisans, ensuring fair payment and our upmost appreciation in hopes of continuation of these timeless handicraft techniques. You may even find a grain or two of Saharan sand in your scarf!
Content copyright Silver Sahara, 2021