Tavie ® African Design

The Tifinac script

The Tuareg are a Berber people of nomadic cattle breeders and traders in the Sahara and Sahel region. Some two-thirds of the estimated 1.5 million Tuareg living in Niger use their traditional language, “Tamasheq”, on a daily basis. The Tamasheq also has an ancient script, called “Tifinac”. Tifinac originated in the period between 9000 and 6000 before Christ and is composed of simple geometrical signs. Tifinac uses 21 to 27 signs according to the region. Traditionally it is written on stones, trunks and in the sand and is very difficult to read.

Nowadays, Tifinac is no longer taught at school. It is transmitted mostly from parents to their children as a means of preserving Tuareg identity. Consequently, the number of (young) people having a thorough command of Tifinac keeps decreasing. What most of them do manage is to write their own name in Tifinac.

UNESCO aims to revitalise Tifinac. As early as in 1966 the organisation considered Tifinac
as a protected language. This and other efforts excited intense interest among Tuareg groups and engendered pride in being able to actively use Tifinac again. The “Association pour la promotion des Tifinac” (APT) in Agadez also works hard for preservation of this script.

The Tifinac illustrates that the Tuareg have had contact with ancient Roman and Punic people of North-Africa: their alphabet has been derived directly from the Punic alphabet.

The Tifinac script is a component of the Tuareg culture to be proud of. Tifinac is also closely knit with the Tavie products and branding: both the Tavie logo and the engravings in the silver disc - for example in the Rayon the Soleil dish - show Tifinac signs. In addition the discs carry the Tifinac initials of the silversmith.
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