Libmonster ID: KZ-2170

In recent years, in the age of globalization, as the antithesis of it, interest in the national and traditional cultures of peoples of various countries and continents has been revived.

Such a public request is intended to satisfy such studies, which include the peer-reviewed work " Berber Anthology. Cultural anthropology and samples of Tuareg folklore" (Moscow, IVRAN, 2012, 310 p.), prepared by S. V. Prozhogina, Doctor of Philology.

This work is another stone in the foundation of a building that recreates the rich and diverse culture of the Maghreb Berbers. This is the result of many years of research conducted by the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Published in 2001-2005. several volumes of the Berber Anthology (Folklore and Literature of the Kabyles of Algeria, Folklore and Literature of the tribes of the Moroccan Reef) This publication is supplemented with information about the cultural anthropology and folklore of the Tuareg people who roam the territories adjacent to Morocco and Algeria.

As you know, to understand modern African problems, it is necessary to carefully and with the greatest tact delve into the history of the studied people, especially their traditional culture and mentality, that is, to understand them as they really are, and not in the mythologized imagination of a European.

This is exactly the way the anthology compiler goes. In the reviewed book " the reader will get acquainted with the specifics of the social structure of different tribes, their customs, customs, their daily life, with the peculiarities of their culture, crafts, and samples of oral folk art, first presented in translations into Russian. There is a difficult but necessary route ahead <...> to that still completely "unknown" world, although it really exists within the limits of the possibilities to open the veil of its amazing existence " (p. 4).

This work is valuable for us because it is the first time that texts that were not previously available to a Russian researcher are published in Russian and put into scientific circulation. They were provided by the Amazig Center for Scientific Research (CERAM), founded in 1984 by the House of Human Sciences in Paris (FMSH), to S. V. Prozhogina, the author of the anthology, as part of a scientific agreement between the Russian Academy of Sciences and FMSH during her research trips in 1998-2011. M. V. Nikolaeva and V. A. Nikitina translated the main materials included in the book under review into Russian with the support and approval of Professor Tassadit Yasin, Head of the Berberology Research Center and its Library. In other words, this volume of the anthology is the fruit of fruitful cooperation between Russian, African and French scientists.

The works of such prominent experts on Berber customs, traditions, and history as Henri Jacques Rene Lot, Charles de Foucault, and Dominique Cazajus give this collection an academic foundation. The anthology includes excerpts from the books of Kazajus "People of the Word", de Foucault "Tuareg Texts in prose", Lot "Tuaregs of Ahaggar", Bonte and Claudet-Avar "Tuaregs of Tafilalet".

Kazajus makes a detailed excursion into the semantics of the word "Tuareg" - the name that French researchers gave to the North African people of the Berber group imoshag (self-name), remaking it from the Arabic" tavvreg "(or"tavvrik") known since the X century.

The author emphasizes that the Tuaregs have never formed a single political association or homogeneous ethnic body (pp. 8-9). Yes, and the dialectical differences within them are significant, " but they do not prevent understanding each other, so it is natural to talk about a single language in this case."..> language is the only thing that distinguishes them from all their neighbors " (p. 9).

Kazajus states that "the Tuaregs, who are concerned about the future of their culture today, say nothing other than that their language is the main core of the whole society and that they should preserve it as the most precious asset" (p. 9). Language is the main sign of their identity. All this, the researcher notes, "forces us, in turn, to take care of the role that the word plays in their society" (p. 12).

It is interesting to note that the name of the Tuareg language is the noun of wives-

page 76

They have a special "feminine" letter tifinag (in the Tamashek language), derived from the ancient Libyan script. Men use the Arabic alphabet.

There are many cultural features that separate the representatives of this people from their surroundings. Kazajus draws our attention, in particular, to examples of poetic creativity. Among the Kel Fervan tribes, they recorded texts both known from ancient times and created at the beginning of the XX century, which can quite rightly be called "poems", as well as "poems" (p. 13). Among the Tuaregs, three major poetic genres can be traced: texts composed in solitude, songs that improvise women during religious or family holidays, and traditional wedding songs.

All these poems are never anonymous works. Both their authors and the circumstances under which they were created are known. Cazajus cites Father Foucault's 1907 report that " Tuareg men were willing to read poems while traveling, alone or in the company of companions; the same thing is still happening today <...> All men today, as at the beginning of the century, know at least a few lines of poetry by heart which are quoted on occasion like proverbs. Some people try to compose poetry <...> getting the title of poet "emeshevey" seems to be an achievement that many people strive for" (p. 14-15).

The fact that the modern researcher Kazajus constantly looks at the works of the Catholic missionary Charles de Foucault, who studied the Tuareg people more than 100 years ago, testifies to the enduring value of both the materials he collected and the scientific conclusions he made. Therefore, the author of the anthology S. V. Prozhogina notes," Texts in prose "by Father Foucault is" the life of the Tuareg people in priceless grains of ideas of people who have almost "dissolved" in modern civilization, about their way of existence, their customs and beliefs, their ideas about the world around them, their relationship with it, where the ethnic, natural, cultural, social, economic, and mythopoetic have merged into a unique human reality, knowledge of which must be preserved and transmitted to the Russian reader, who can repeat, and perhaps even for the first time, travel with them on the planet of the "blue people"" (p.52).

The data contained in the fragments of Henri Lot's book "The Tuaregs of Ahaggar" presented in the anthology allow us to learn more about the historical past of this people living in the southern borders of Algeria and Morocco, about their way of life, mythology, features of social life, specifics of gender relations and religious beliefs, arts and crafts.

The lives of the Taughers living in Tafilalet , one of the largest strongholds of Berbers and the Berber-speaking population of the Sahrawi border regions of southeastern Morocco, are explored in detail by Pierre Bonte and Helene Claudet-Avar in their book " Tuaregs and other Saharans among Many Worlds "(2000), an excerpt from which "Tuaregs of Tafilalet" is given in anthologies. The authors devote a lot of space to comparative historical material that gives an idea of the political life of the Tuaregs in the distant past and in our days (pp. 171-178). Researchers emphasize the fact that the image of the Tuareg has undergone significant changes in the ideas of the French over a hundred years. They write that this image had to be almost completely recreated anew. He "wavered between two extremes: the figure of the 'desert knight', the embodiment of ancient virtues, and the figure of the wild, fierce and predatory. Both images initially existed together, causing anxiety, since they also reproduced two sides of our own nature, referring us to our past and our tossing and turning " (p. 178).

And if this view of the Tuaregs was a European view through the prism of their own culture, then the Tuareg self-identification, their own awareness of themselves, their existence and their mythological ideas about the origin of their people-all this is vividly and colorfully, with bottomless depth, is said in the poetic texts of the Tuaregs of Aira, collected by Moussa Albaka and Dominic Kazajus between 1976 and 1988, in the Agadez region of northern Niger, two related Tuareg groups - Kel Ferwan and Kel Evey. The collected materials were published by these authors in their book "Poems and Songs of the Tuareg Calamus", published in Paris in 1992, fragments of which are given in the anthology.

As the researchers note, " no monograph devoted to the life of any of the Tuareg groups can be considered complete if it does not include information about their poetry and songs. Only through the literature of this people does one get acquainted with materials of linguistic and anthropological properties. Such works are not inferior in importance to ethnographic sketches" (p. 184).

The first chapter presents poems (teshevet, pl. ch. tishivay) by one author - Kurman, who died in 1989. The second contains wedding songs that are popular with the blacksmiths of Kel Evey; the third contains songs that the women of Kel Fervan improvise on religious or family holidays.

Translations of these poems and songs, as well as "Recordings of Tuareg fairy Tales and Proverbs" in the final part of the anthology, significantly expanded our understanding of this North African people. Oral texts reveal the real world of the Tuareg, the environment in which this ethnic group was formed, its way of life and its spiritual culture.

For those readers who would like to learn more about the Tuareg, the anthology's compiler has compiled an extensive list of recommended literature, which includes more than 150 titles.

N. A. KSENOFONTOVA, Candidate of Historical Sciences, Institute of Africa, Russian Academy of Sciences


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N. A. KSENOFONTOVA, BERBER ANTHOLOGY-A COLLECTION OF WORKS BY RUSSIAN, AFRICAN AND FRENCH SCIENTISTS // Astana: Digital Library of Kazakhstan (BIBLIO.KZ). Updated: 11.09.2023. URL: (date of access: 29.09.2023).

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