A short clip recorded in in a “boutique” in Dakhla, Western Sahara late one night.
The cheche is the Touareg head-scarf, which ranges in length from 1.5m (as shown) to multiple meters, depending on the social standing (and ability to afford the cloth!) of the wearer.
The cheche is a very practical garment for the Sahara region, as it both covers the head and prevents the inhalation of wind borne sand.
Becasue of the lack of water in the Sahara, the cheche is often dyed by pounding dried indigo into the cloth as a pose to the standard “wet” dying process. As such, over time and with a combination of sweat and heat, the dye can often leech permanently onto the skin, and touareg’s are often referred to as the “blue men of the deset”. The blueness is considered a good thing, and an indication of health and wealth.
Among the Tuareg, men who wear the cheche are called Kel Tagelmust, (tagelmust being another name for the cheche) or “People of the Veil”. The cheche is worn only by adult males, and only taken off in the presence of close family. They believe that doing this wards off evil spirits. Tuareg men often find shame in showing their mouth or nose to strangers or people of a higher standing than themselves, and have been known to hide their features using their hands if a cheche is unavailable.
The cheche has other cultural significance, as the manner in which it is wrapped and folded is often used to show clan and regional origin, and the darkness to which it is dyed showing the wealth of the wearer.
The method shown in the video was from Dakhla, and due to the knot is exceedingly simple to tie. We were shown other methods further into the desert, none with a knot.
I will try to upload a video of those as well…
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