Tcherot Talisman

The Tcherot are talismans, worn by the Tuareg in the Sahara and by other Berber people in the extreme south of Morocco, Western Sahara and Mauritania.

They are supposed to bring luck and blessings (baraka) and drive away evil. The effectiveness of the talismans lies in the belief in their intrinsic power that is believed to come from the metal of which they are made (silver, iron, copper, brass), from their content and from their shape.

In the Tuareg language (Tamahaq), the literal sense of the word “Tcherot” means “letter”, “message” or “paper on which something is written”. The word Tcherot is used in Niger, while these talismans are called “Taraout” in Algeria, “Takardé” in Mali and “Kitab” in Mauritania.

The Tcherot often has the form of a metal or leather box, lozenge-shaped or rectangle or square. Here we find the female symbols: “X” as a basic shape may be regarded as descended from the Stone Age civilization of the Mediterranean area, lozenge and triangle which are cut out of the dark leather like eyes; and also spirals.

The Techerot often has a sheet of paper, closed and sealed, on which is written in Arabic, one or more verses of the Quran selected by an Imam or a Marabout, at the request of a person who wants to be protected from the evil eye, curses, hatred, diseases or also to receive favors or luck.

In other cases the Tcherot can hold a sheet of paper on which is written magic letters, numbers, names of days, names of the stars and planet, or signs representing the eye, revealing the esoteric practices well known by the Marabouts. Other times a Tcherot may contain desert sand, small objects, or simply the “whiff” of the Marabout.

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