Berber jewellery: a centuries-old tradition of pageantry!

What is the history and symbolism associated with Berber jewellery?

In Morocco, pageantry and elegance never lack; Jewelry has been present in the daily lives of Berber women and men since 5000 B.C. Among these peoples, the most famous are the Tuaregs, the “blue men of the desert.” They are particularly known for their skill in silver work. Besides being objects used for decorative purposes, the jewellery they realized also represented the social class of the wearer in the past. Not only, but they also had protective and symbolic values. These powers varied according to the materials used, such as:

  • Silver has anti-inflammatory and relaxing properties;
  • Amazonite encourages self-control and courage;
  • Carnelian can help regain balance and stability;
  • Amber seems to protect against the evil eye and provides happiness and lightheartedness to the wearer;
  • Coral is used for fertility.

Amulets and protective symbols were often placed inside these jewels, blessed by sorcerers or magicians. The purpose was to protect the wearer from the evil eye and other ills. Among the most used symbols, popular in the West as well, there is the hand of Fatima, called Hamsa or Khamsa meaning 5, like the books of the Torah. It also symbolizes the fifth letter of the alphabet, He, which represents one of the names of God. It can be found on textiles, murals, souvenirs and especially jewellery.

What jewellery is most commonly used?

Berber rings are still popular today, generally made of silver and decorated with stones, wood, or other metals. Originally, they were mainly worn by men. Other popular Berber jewellery includes bracelets, which are very elegant and gaudily decorated. They are especially loved by Moroccan women. Men also use them, but they are much simpler: made of silver, not too thick and with simple, tribal decorations. Necklaces, on the other hand, were used by Berbers as amulets with protective and healing powers. While earrings, more of a modern spread, are flashy and colourful but still elegant.

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