This vibrant and lavishly decorated traditional Tuareg leather cushion or “Adafor” is made of goatskin.
Has a zipper in the leather in the back.
The Tuareg are a fierce semi-nomadic people who range across the southern Sahara desert in Africa.
Tuareg women are experts at packing and they would stuff these pillows with straw for use in their tents and when it was time to travel the straw would be emptied and the pillows packed essentially taking up hardly any space at all.
Designs have been cut out of leather and embroidered as well as drawn.
As is customary, men prepare and tan the skin used to elaborate their goods and the women affix all detailed decoration such as cut out patterns, fringes, embroidery, etc.
The designs are passed down from generation to generation with extreme attention given to detail.
The Tuareg are fiercely independent nomadic people. On the move with their herds and camels over vast areas of the southern Sahara, they create an impressive world of traditional, functional objects of leather which was their primary material due to its durability, lightness, and flexibility.
Masters of geometric abstract design, the Tuareg fashioned objects ranging from saddlebags to cushions to tent mats that were painted and molded, embroidered, engraved, and fringed.
The Tuareg, a nomadic people in Northern Africa, have symbols that do everything from identifying your village to ward off evil. Although they converted to Islam in the 7th century, many of their cultural practices and symbols date back to an Indigenous African spiritual practice called “animism”. Animism is based on a spiritual “lifeforce” in all living things, even plants! One of the most basic symbols, shared by many cultures in Africa, is the “X” on small leather bags holding crushed plants. The “X” indicates that the power spreads in all directions. Similar X symbols were found in early African American archaeological sites.
Over time the “X” evolved into more complex forms. Another ancient cultural practice is the balance of male and female social power.
Leadership is inherited on the mother’s family line, and religious rituals associated with some symbols refer to female spirits and fertility. These symbol shapes became the basis for stamped leather shapes.
The men had reputations as warriors of the region, and still today many families have a traditional sword or Takoba. But women do the leatherwork that covers the handle and scabbard. Chastity before marriage is not required for either gender, and there is no shame in divorce.
The freedom and equality for men and women in Tuareg tradition are a great example of understanding that our stereotypes about gender, culture, and religion are often wrong.