Supporting Tuareg culture
Mohamed El Maoloud Ag Hamid is a passionate man who had a twofold mission: to continue designing and creating jewelry that had been part of his heritage for seven generations and to form a collective of Tuareg artisans to make traditional, handmade jewelry, employing the same techniques and raw materials used by his ancestors. That fervor, more than 20 years ago, gave birth to Timidwa Association, a collective that brought together 150 male and female artisans to share skills with the goal to learn new design techniques for both its jewelry and leather lines and build a community.l
Timidwa’s leather goods reflect the nomadic culture of the artisans, whose ancestors for generations herded goats and other animals. The ability to make leather items such as shoes and saddles, as well as decorative items goes back for generations. Leather goods are made from locally sourced goat leather. Tanned hides are colored with organic vegetable dyes and other pigments and embellished with tassels or special closures. Intricately carved boxes are made with wood from Mali, or from Senegal. From start to finish, including the tools they use all are handmade.
In creating the jewelry collections, the physical act of drawing and design is set aside. Visualization is a key element to the process before they set forth the designs on paper. Tradition is combined with the quality of modernity, incorporating designs that are representative of history, tribe and community. Timidwa jewelry collections are rich with symbols of pregnancy, birth, family and home. The silver jewelry is often set with bold, large, semi-precious stones. Other materials, like ebony and turquoise, must be purchased from outside Mali, but the artisans creates all the silver jewelry individually.
To learn more about the various techniques and processes in creating their elaborate and exquisite goods, come visit Timidwa Association this month—from July 13-15—at the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico. For more infomation and a schedule of events, please visit: www.folkartmarket.org.