Between the Lines: Facial Tattoos and the Chaouia Facial tattoos, once popular among Chaouia women in Algeria, are now less prevalent. This project examines their contribution to identity, their symbolic meaning, and reasons for their disappearance.
Sepia-tinted photos of over 50 years ago show the facial tattoos of women from indigenous populations in Algeria. But documentation of these women has faded like the aged photographs. In Algeria today the actual practice of facial tattooing is disappearing as it is found solely among an older generation.
One particular indigenous group losing this cultural marker is the Chaouia of the Aurès Mountains in northeastern Algeria. The once prevalent tattoos comprised of lines and dots found on foreheads, chins, and cheeks of women will no longer be seen among the Chaouia in the near future, while the understanding of their symbolic meaning and contribution to identity will also wane with the loss of the practice. This project brings to light a practice that has been understudied and examines Islam's influence on the tradition.
Student FellowYasmin Bendaas, a rising senior at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC, is an anthropology major with minors in journalism and Middle East and South Asia studies. As a student-journalist, she...
STEPHEN SAPIENZA, YASMIN BENDAAS
Emmy Award-winning journalist Steve Sapienza and student fellow Yasmin Bendaas share the stage at Wake Forest University, discussing their unique reporting projects.
August 23, 2012 / Huffington Post
The tattoos that adorn the faces and bodies of elderly Chaouia women in rural Algeria may have roots as far away as Iraq. What the tatoos mean is largely a mystery. They soon may disappear for good.
August 17, 2012 / Untold Stories
At age 90, Arjona Chergui not only remembers songs surrounding the old tattooing tradition, but still enjoys singing them.
August 2, 2012 / Untold Stories
Yasmin Bendaas considers the perennial quest for beauty and good health in uncovering the meaning behind the traditional tattoos of Algerian women.
July 11, 2012 / Untold Stories
The tattoos of women in the Aurés Mountains of Algeria recall a bygone era rich in history and tradition. Today each woman bears a unique cultural marker -- and the individual story it tells.
June 26, 2012 / Untold Stories
In the Aures Mountains of Algeria, the practice of tattooing has stopped due to Islamic influence. Some elderly tattooed women seek forgiveness while others remain content.
"We will illuminate dark places and, with a deep sense of responsibility, interpret these troubled times."
JOSEPH PULITZER III (1913-1993)