Image of the month: Kel Tagelmust

18-11-01A Tuareg noble of the Sahara, exact­ly as I remem­ber such men. They are occa­sion­al­ly referred to as kel tagel­must (veiled peo­ple) because of the head­gear and robe dyed with shim­mer­ing indi­go. This gar­ment is fine-tuned for the Sahara’s vio­lent sand­storms, blis­ter­ing sun, wild swings in tem­per­a­ture, and is designed to con­serve pre­cious body mois­ture. Per­haps it’s the inspi­ra­tion for the “still­suit” in Frank Herbert’s Dune. The sev­en trib­al con­fed­er­a­tions of the Tuareg always seemed to me a much more plau­si­ble mod­el for Herbert’s sci­ence fic­tion clas­sic than the Badawi of Ara­bia, and the his­to­ry of the Sahara and Maghrib have episodes that par­al­lel the sto­ry of Dune.

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