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The Tuareg Clans: a Complete Matriarchy and Men in Burkas

Plamena M.Plamena M.
Tuareg Man
Image: DailymailCoUk

The Tuareg society is one of the oldest inhabiting our planet. Their customs and rituals with warrior-men wearing indigo blue turbans, independent women that have more rights than European women and men wearing burkas are truly fascinating.

Yes, you read that right - Tuareg women have more rights than European women. The Tuaregs belong to the Berber group and are descendants of the Phoenicians - an ancient seafaring people that colonized the northern coasts of Africa. Their population is low but they have continued their existence for millennia.

Tuaregs practice Islam but their customs are fundamentally different from those familiar to us in the modern world. A true Tuareg does not uphold the tradition of polygamy and marries just once in their lifetime.

Image: DailymailCoUk

Tuareg women also differ in their customs from traditional Muslim women. They walk about with their faces uncovered, while this is strictly prohibited for their husbands. Members of the stronger sex must don the burka as soon as they become of lawful age. A Tuareg man is only allowed to uncover his face in front of his wife. The reason is simple - men consider their women to be the most beautiful in the world and wish to revere them.

Ladies from this culture are called "queens of the desert". They are proud, independent and the ones who are in charge. Unlike their Muslim contemporaries, they are allowed to have as many sexual partners as they wish up until they get married. Under one condition - they have to enter their hut after sunset and leave before sunrise.

Every young girl from a Tuareg clan is taught to read and write from the earliest age. Men can remain illiterate.

The Tuareg clans claim they've survived as long as they have because they've built their social system based on the saying: A man and woman must see eye to eye and be together in heart, not just in bed. Divorce is allowed but the man has to return to his parents with nothing other than his camel and the clothes on his back. The woman gets the property, often including the children and tent.

Tuareg Women
Image: DailymailCoUk

The Tuaregs have kept many elements of matriarchy. They follow a matrilateral family structure - matrilateral marriage, inheritance and descent are recorded/traced back through the female line and they practice matrilocal residence, where the husband goes to live with his wife's family. This makes them the only society in the world that has retained matriarchy to the present day.

Only the Tibetan Mosuo tribe have a similar way of life. In their case however, besides household chores, the woman also do farm work, raise cattle, hunt and even go to war. Mosuo men have no responsibilities and lay about all day long, to save their energy for their wives' nightly visits to their bed.