1. Archaic Terminology: The chapter traces the origins of early settlements of the northwestern region of Egypt, the desert oases, the Fayum, the region of the Lakes, and the western portion of the delta of the Nile, by Saharan and Libyan archaic people, with specific emphasis on archaic topography which can be directly related to Modern Amazigh spoken today in North Africa (Tamazirt.)
2,The Pillar People: The review of a number of terms from the mythology and ceremonial procedures of dynastic Egypt shows the influence of those early settlers named The People of the Pillars (Intui) on the beliefs and practices perpetuated through centuries in Egypt, and the presence of an all pervasive worship of these early origins: (cult of ancestors.)
3.The Holy rulers of First Princes of Egypt: An intensive comparative review of ancient Egyptian and Modern Amazigh terms reveals that the first noble rulers of the area were of Amazigh origin. A series of families of terms link quite clearly a number of beliefs and practices to the North African cultural complex.
4.Tehuti, time and the Wisdom of the stars is a chapter delving a little more deeply into the cosmogony and cosmology of the early Egyptians, and the roots of that knowledge in archaic practices, which have parallel indicators in North Africa.
5. The Innermost Shrine from The Book of the Dead: The geography of the Land of the Beyond, Tu-at (Du-Ament), and a variety of important indices throughout the Book of the Dead indicate quite clearly that the final return of the defunct to the Blessed Land of the Ancestors was also a step by step description of their claim of descent from these original beings. The rule of “Ma-aa-at,” the organizing principle of an entire civilization for centuries, or ‘NTR,” originated in the area of the Sacred lakes and the ancient settlements of the Fayum and oasis complex. Linguistic comparison with Modern Amazigh continues to indicate the kinship of those people with North African Imazighen (also known as Berbers.)
6. A Conclusion, Notes, and an Appendix, which is the reproduction of an article published in The Amazigh Voice, a publication of the Amazigh Cultural Association in America, indicate the pioneer aspect of such a work and the direction in which further linguistic studies could bring increasing light into areas of Egyptian scholarship heretofore deemed as obscure and/or of barbarous origin. .
The book is based on a French ethnographic description recorded by a member of that group, Hassan Jouad, and a Frenchman, Bernard Lortat-Jacob during the celebration of the opening of the Summer Season Festivities, the Tazzunt ceremony, in 1978. The original English analysis based on this description was a spring paper written in 1982 at the Department of Anthropology of Stanford University. Because such material is so lacking in the anthropological literature of Morocco, and given the fact that American universities are beginning to become more interested in Amazigh studies (North African Berbers and Tuaregs), this small book might be appreciated by a number of people entering that field. Hopefully, it will also be of interest to anyone else interested in ritual and religious practice in Africa.
The document opens with an introduction to the Berbers of the High Atlas of Morocco, who speak Tamazight, a form of a Berber language which has a number of different dialects through North Africa. A whole section is devoted to the analysis of their segmentary type of tribal organization, and what has been discussed in the past by anthropologists interested in segmentary structures of social organization in past anthropological literature. The various mechanisms of affiliations and alliances, recognized by Berbers (Imazighen) in this part of the world about the middle of the twentieth century, are also examined and assessed as to their function and place in the tapestry of relations not just among the Ait Arbaa, but more generally among the Berbers of that region.
The presence of marabouts, saintly men such as Sidi Asdal, the local saint of the upper Tessawt Valley, and a maraboutic complex which antedates the arrival of Islam and has been incorporated into religious practice in Moorcco, are also introduced and discussed in a separate section of the book. The concept of Baraka (blessing, and power of blessing) is introduced and analyzed. Social order and the segmentary structure of social organization are singularly modified by the presence of these powerful saintly men with Baraka as opposed to the rule of elected, temporal chiefs, or amghars. A model of equilibrium, fluidity, and flexibility emerges from such a factor at the core of a structured, hierarchical society.
The ritual of Tazzunt itself is presented, explained, and analyzed. An anthropological reflection on the importance of ritual, song and dance, rounds up the presentation. All aspects of the presentation of the ritual of Tazzunt and its meaning for the villagers and mountain people of the Tessawt Valley are backed by a series of poems and songs which were translated from their original Tamazight composition into French by Hassan Jouad, and subsequently translated from the French into English by the author of the book, Helene Hagan. The poetry is essential to the actual substance and meaning of the actions described. In addition to the importance of the poetry which accompanies the prose of the explanatory text, the author had the extraordinary luck to come across a set of photographs taken in that valley, around the very time that this document was being written. These photographs were taken by two architects, Anne and Olivier Fougerat, who were kind enough to share their beautiful photography taken in May of 1984 in the Upper Tessawt Valley of the High Atlas of Moroc
(Translated from the French by Helene E. Hagan, from original Tuareg words of an artisan cited by J. Gabus, 1971)
An extensive study of the symbolism of Tuareg jewelry has not yet been undertaken to date. It is this simple realization that brought the authors together in a decision to collect information on the topic, from past scholarly journals and books, contemporary articles and web sites, but also from Tuareg informants whose expert knowledge was sought. Though this book is small and does not aspire to be all encompassing, it is the first work totally dedicated to the presentation of the elaborate silver jewelry of Tuareg men and women of Northern Niger in the English language, and the only one we know that is solely dedicated to providing information concerning the function, meanings, and symbols of that jewelry.
The book introduces the reader to the culture of the Tuaregs, a remarkable group of African nomads of the Sahara Desert, which has fascinated the Europeans who came into contact with them in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In the last decade or so, as the Tuareg societies of Niger and Mali underwent major change, a number of American researchers began to document some of their ways. Research and publications in the English language are, however, lagging far behind those in the French language. Fortunately, the primary author of this book, Helene Hagan, was originally educated in the French language, and as an Amazigh (Berber) herself, is very familiar with North African scholarship in the Amazigh culture. Thus, as a bilingual anthropologist of Berber ancestry, born and raised in Morocco, and an activist for Amazigh cultural, linguistic and human rights, she benefits from a fourfold source of valuable information: French scholarship, American contemporary accounts, the latest Amazigh research emanating out of North Africa, and Northern Niger Tuareg informants she knows. This unique set of circumstances gives the book an extra dimension of depth and insight.
The book recounts the myth of origin of the Kel Tamasheq of Niger, and looks at the continuity and development of symbols from archaic inscriptions and rock art of the Sahara to present-day engravings on silver jewelry and the Tifinagh alphabet. The second chapter is entirely devoted to retracing this development and showing the correspondence between Tifinagh characters of the Amazigh alphabet and the elegant, clear lines of geometric designs, which characterize the silver jewelry of the Tuareg people. The two are deeply connected. Modern Tifinagh Calligraphic Art is also featured in this chapter.
The next chapter delves into the mystery of the famous Cross of Agadez and the various hypotheses that have been offered as to its meaning. It depicts the artisanal mode of production, and the functions the crosses hold for Tuareg people themselves. Nowadays, the production of crosses for the western world diminishes the role this cross, Tenghelet tan Agadez, had as a clan identifier. It has become, like other less well known pieces of Tuareg jewelry, a simple ornament or necklace devoid of any particular significance, and the markings on those crosses are losing some of their intentions of yore.
The book reviews specific masculine jewelry and feminine adornment in the next two chapters, and looks at the role various pieces of silver jewelry play in the relations