The sun is heavy, everyone is in the shade. Under the tent, in the heart of Sahara, everything is still. Only young animals frolic a little further. The men rest in the shelter of the sun while waiting for the shadows to lengthen a little more. From time to time, a young mother rocks her baby in silence in a hammock adorned with leather fringes and embroidered with woolen threads of different colors.
But when the time comes to move the camp, everything starts to move. Families dismantle tents and beds, pack calabashes, food and all essential items. So we load, we hoist, we suspend, we hook. Men and beasts take to the road, carrying sacks and skins worn by time, travel, and the desert wind. They constrain the body of men, they weigh down animals, sometimes we would like them to finally fall, but these objects have the power to be indispensable. They also move forward, dance, swing, seeking balance in movements that are flexible enough not to get bogged down too quickly. Man and animal play tightrope walkers.
There are, in my eyes, few things as touching as the fragility of living beings in the Sahara, their stubbornness to cling to life, to cling to this hostile environment, to proudly win their freedom in a rare elegance.
In these permanent movements, you have to find landmarks, you carry your story on you. Thus, nomadic women, Tuareg or Fulani, adorn themselves with a host of small colored objects, the most stylish even wear a small mirror in a corner of their clothing. Everything necessary for life but also fetish bundles and frills, amulets, strange little bags that arouse curiosity. They accumulate, like memories of past moments, of landscapes crossed. These are sorts of travel diaries or diaries that constitute their identity. Aligned like pearls, they are then organized in a chronological sequence, they tell the story of each, their fears, their hopes, their beliefs. They also say wealth, group, condition, social rank. Sometimes they read like ordinances because of the different virtues attributed to them.
Long rows of pearls slip everywhere into the hair, precious silver rubs shoulders with small plastic or iron objects, beads, and the colored mixture then takes on a simple aesthetic value. The pearls sing under the movements, the links turn around the neck, around the waist, over the shoulder, hide in the folds of the clothes. They seem not to hold, they are about to fall, but the hand is there to tie the knot and hold them back tirelessly.
The ornaments evolve. We thread, re-thread, we melt, we recycle, objects change shape, we add, we barter, we find, we hang. In the precariousness of nomadic life, jewelry travels, is exchanged, meets, wears out and finds a new life.
This incessant recovery, this mixture of the precious and the fake characterizes nomadic art well. Nothing is fixed. Fragility forces you to consolidate, redo, patch up, and the lack of means opens up unexpected perspectives for creative minds: appropriating what is at hand and making it look pretty. Everyone makes their own color music. The ornaments are imbued with characters, reflect the sensitivity of each. In the midst of all these little bundles, these charms sliding on the waist, hung on the shoulder, these jewels hanging from the end of the hairstyles, the body finds its elegance.
It is the attention paid to these little things that gives them their value, a whole life that is told in these strange rosaries. The patched-up little nothings then become precious jewels. They cling so as not to fall, so as not to be erased. Nothing is more tenacious than these charms, these shards of composed memories, brought together with creativity and mischief.
I was inspired by these delicate objects loaded with symbols that have always moved me to create my own charms composed of crosses, beads, shells and engraved charms. These bronze jewels made in Niger by Tuareg craftsmen are adorned with fine gold in a Parisian workshop to make them even more precious. Even far from the desert, whether you choose the Tahoua necklace or the amulet ring, our charm jewelry will bring you luck.