A couple of neat things have happened in the last week. I found out from Mustafa at 'Sahara' that the type of wooden cosmetic case my great-grandmother had was Tuareg, and then this past week I found a photo of 'Tuareg earrings' that had the same kind of stamp on them that the coins in my great-grandmother's necklace had. The design looks like a prickly little crescent moon or half-circle. This kind of stamp was on the coins on the old necklace we had. I feel so badly about losing the necklace, but I ought to add that it was not spectacularly beautiful or anything. It was very plain, really, just a couple of chains of old coins joined together. But it would be so cool to have it now. At least I remember it well. So, anyway, the evidence is stacking up that my great-grandmother had Tuareg ancestors.
And there is more evidence from the dna side as well. I may have mentioned that in my most recent 'update' at dnatribes, my number for sub-saharan african dropped, but my number for East African shot up quite high, and of course, I still had a high North African number. I wondered about the East African reading. Dnatribes includes Egypt, Mozambique, Ethiopa and Kenya in their 'East African' group. Also, Madagascar, Mauritius and Reunion Island - the latter two places I have visited with my spiritual teacher, Amma in 1993.
Anyway, to help clarify this new mystery, I've found this passage in "The History and Geography of Human Genes" by L. Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Paolo Menozzi and Alberto Piazza, pages 172-173: "Among speakers of Berber languages are the Tuareg, who inhabit mainly southern Algeria and northern Niger, with fewer in neighboring countries (Libya). We are confronted with the new finding that, although the Tuareg speak a Berber language, they show a closer genetic relationship with the Beja. The origin of the Tuareg is not fully understood. There are indications that they may have moved to the center of the Sahara in order to escape Arab attacks in the 7th and 11th centuries A.D., but their earlier whereabouts are not known. They have always been a very mobile people, being pastoralists who may have been among the first in Africa to make extensive use of horses, and later, camels. Up to modern times, the Tuareg have been the major camel traders on the traditional caravan routes across the Sahara. The Tuareg have dark-skinned slaves, and there is considerable variation in skin color from the nobility to the servants. IT is possible that their genetic similarity to the Beja and Ethiopians is a consequence of their having some black admixture, but Tuareg slaves have ususally not been sampled, or were sampled separately. Although the Tuareg are classified with Berbers on linguistic grounds, it is clear that they show important ethnic distinctions form Berbers and have a developed culture of their own.
"The Beja or Bega are a group of nomadic pastoralists speaking a Cushitic language and may have long inhabited the area that they now inhabit in Sudan, between the Nile and Red Sea. Egyptian records indicate they have been in this region at least since 2700 B.C. as independent pastoralists." The Tuareg and the Beja are estimated to have separated about 5000 years ago. Both Tuareg and Beja belong genetically to the Ethiopian group, although there is no marked similarity of either the Tuareg or the Beja with Ethiopian groups. "At this stage the hypothesis of their common origin shall be considered as a serious possibility."
I have to say that the strength of the evidence that my great-grandmother was Tuareg in heritage is much greater and more specific than anything I had believed likely to emerge. Although I had hoped to make specific discoveries, this really outdoes my expectations!
Also, just as a side note, at our ashram there is a table where we sell (to raise funds for charitable projects) the things that have been donated for our annual auction that didn't sell. For a couple of years now there has been a small figure of raku-fired black woman wearing a coiled blue turban and blue robes. The blue is variegated with gray. I've always noticed her, but about a month ago I felt compelled to buy her, and I did. I just thought that she might be one of the Blue People of Morocco, and even though I now believed I was no longer related to them, since my Berber and Moroccan values had dropped after my update, and the East African values were now higher, I just wanted to have her, and I was also considering giving her as a gift to a friend, after I had enjoyed her for a little while. Well, you can imagine how I feel about that now!
By the way, we know the figure is a woman because she is not veiled. Tuareg men are always veiled, probably as a protection against blowing sand.