BERBERS, the name of the various branches of the indige nous "Libyan" race of north Africa. Since the dawn of history the Berbers have occupied the tract between the Mediterranean and the Sahara from Egypt to the Atlantic. The origin of the name is doubtful. Some derive it from the word (36,pi3apot (barbarians), employed first by the Greeks and later by the Romans. Others attribute it to the Arab conquerors. Tribal titles, Barabara and Beraberata, appear in Egyptian inscriptions of 170o and 130o B.C., and the Berbers were known to the Egyptians as "Lebu," "Mashu asha," "Tamahu," "Tehennu" and "Kahaka"; a long list of names is found in Herodotus; and the Romans called them Numidae, Gaetuli and Mauri, terms derived respectively from the Greek voµuBES (nomads), the name Gued'oula, of a great Berber tribe, and the Hebrew mahur (western) . In regard to the ethnic rela tions of the Berbers, on the monuments of Egypt their ancestors are pictured with the comparatively blond features which many of them still display. Though considerable individual differences of type may be found in every village, the Berbers are distinctively a "white" race. Dark hair and brown or hazel eyes are the rule; blue-eyed blonds are found, but their frequency has been con siderably overstated. The invaders who have most affected the Berber race are the Arabs, but the two races, with a common religion, often a common government, and the same tribal group ings, have failed to amalgamate to any great extent. The Berber is straightforward, honest, by no means averse to money-making, but not unscrupulous in the methods which he employs to this end, and trustworthy.
The Berber's village is his state, and the gov ernment is vested in an assembly, the Jemda, formed of all males old enough to observe the fast of Ramadan. By them are deter mined all matters of peace or war, legislation, taxation and justice. The executive officer is the Amin, a kind of mayor, elected from some influential family in which the dignity is often in practice hereditary. He owes his position to the good-will of his fellows, receives no remuneration, and resigns as soon as he loses the con fidence of the people. By him are appointed certain Temnian (sing. Tamen) who act as overseers, though without executive powers, in the various quarters of the village. The poorest Berber has as great a voice in affairs as the richest. The undue power of the Jemda is checked by vendetta and a sort of lynch law, and by the formation of parties (sots), within or without the assembly, for trade, political and other purposes. The Berbers are a warlike people who have never been completely subjugated. Every boy on reaching 16 is brought into the Jemda and given weapons which he carries till he is sixty. Though each village is absolutely independent as far as its internal affairs are concerned, two or more are often connected by administrative ties to form an Arsli or tribe. A number of these tribes form a Thakebilt or loose confederation. The Taureg organization, owing to their peculiar circumstances of life, is monarchical. Wars are declared by special messengers ; the exchange of sticks or guns renders an armistice inviolable. In some tribes a tablet, on which is inscribed the name of every man fit to bear arms, is placed in the mosque. The Ber bers, though NIahommedans, do not observe the prescribed ablu tions ; they break their fast at Ramadan ; and eat wild boar's flesh and drink fig brandy. Saints, both male and female, are paid more reverence by Berbers than by Arabs. Around their tombs their descendants settle, and thus sacred villages, often of considerable size, spring up. Almost every village, too, has its saint or prophet, and disputes as to their relative sanctity and powers cause fierce feuds. The hereditary caste known as Marabouts are frequently in open opposition to the absolute authority of the Jemda. They are possessed of certain privileges, such as exemp tion from the chief taxes and the duty of bearing arms. They often take a foremost part in tribal administration, and are fre quently called upon to perform the office of arbitrators in ques tions of disputed policy, etc. In the Jemda, too, the Marabout at times takes the place of honour and keeps order. The Berbers are very superstitious. Their social tendencies are distinctly com munistic ; property is often owned by the family in common, and a man can call upon the services of his fellow villagers for cer tain purposes, as the building of a house. Provision for the poor is often made by the community.
In some districts there are peculiar customs, such as the wearing of small silver nose-rings, seen in El-Jofra. The Berbers' weapons are those of the Arab : the long straight sword, the slightly curved and highly ornamented dagger and the long gun. Their villages, however, are often of substantial appearance: with houses of untrimmed stones, oc casionally with two storeys, built on hills, and invariably defended by a bank, a stone wall or a hedge. Sometimes their homes are mere huts of turf or of clay tiles, with mortar made from lime and clay or cow-dung. The sloping roof is covered with reeds, straw or stones. The living room is on the right, the cattle-stall on the left. The dwelling is surrounded by a garden or small field of grain. The second storey is not added till a son marries. In the villages of the western Atlas the greater part of the upper storey consists of a sort of rough verandah. In this district the natives spend the winter in vaults beneath the houses, and, for the sake of warmth, the tenements are built very close. Agri culture, which is carried on in the mountain districts by means of laboriously constructed terraces. is antiquated in its methods. The plough, of ten replaced on the steeper slopes by the hoe, is similar to that depicted in ancient Egyptian drawings, and hand irrigation is usual. A sickle, toothed like a saw, is used for reaping. Corn is trodden by oxen, and kept in osier baskets narrowing to the top, or clay granaries.
The Berbers have many industries. They mine and work iron, lead and copper. They have olive presses and flour mills and their own millstone quarries, and build mills for the Arabs. They make lime, tiles, woodwork for the houses, domestic utensils and agricultural implements. They weave and dye several kinds of cloth, tan and dress leather and manufacture oil and soap. With out the wheel the women produce a variety of pottery utensils, often of very graceful design and decorated with patterns in red and black. Whole tribes, such as the Beni-Sliman, are occupied in the iron trade; the Beni-Abbas made firearms before the French conquest, and even cannon are said to have been made by boring. Before it was proscribed by the French, the manu facture of gunpowder was general. The native jewellers make excellent ornaments in silver, coral and enamel. In some places wood-carving has been brought to considerable perfection ; and native artists engrave on metal both by etching and the burin. The Berbers are keen traders and, of ter the harvest, hawk small goods, travelling great distances.
A Berber woman has in many ways a better position than her Arab sister. True, her birth is regarded as an event of no moment, while that of a boy is celebrated by great rejoicings, and his mother acquires the right to wear on her forehead the to f tint, a mark which only the women who have borne an heir can assume. Her husband buys and can dismiss her at will. She has most of the hard work to do, and is little better than a servant. When she is old and past work, especially if she has not been the mother of a male child, she is often abandoned. But she has a voice in public affairs; she has laws to protect her, manages the household and goes unveiled; she has a right to the money she earns; she can inherit under wills, and bequeath property, though to avoid the alienation of real property, succession to it is denied her. But most characteristic is the Berber woman's right to enter into a sacred bond or agreement, represented by the giving of the anaya. This is some symbolic object, stick or what not, which passes between the parties to a contract, the obligations under which, if not fulfilled by the contracting parties during their lives, become hereditary. Female saints, too, are held in high honour; and the Berber is monogamous. Among many Berber tribes the eldest daughter's son succeeds. A religious corporation, the Savia Kartas, has been ruled over by a woman, the chief's wife. The Berbers consult their women in many matters. Only one woman is really held in low esteem, the kuata or "go-between," though her services are only employed in the respectable task of arranging marriages. Berber women are intelligent and hard-work ing, and, when young, very pretty and graceful. The Berbers do not admire fat women. Among the Kabyles the adulteress is put to death, as are those women who have illegitimate children, the latter suffering with their mothers.
Language.—The Berber language is still spoken by millions of people from Egypt to the Atlantic and from the Mediterranean to the Sudan, and place-names in the Canary Islands and other remains of the aboriginal language there prove it to have been the native tongue. The Berber tongue shows some affinity with Semitic in the construction both of its words and sentences but is quite distinct from the Semitic languages; and the dialects show but slight differences from the long-extinct Hamitic speech from which all are derived. The Berber language is still essentially one. The Berbers have a writing of their own, peculiar and little used or known, the antiquity of which is proved by monuments and inscriptions ranging over the whole of north Africa. A col lection of the various signs of the alphabet has shown thirty-two letters, four more than Arabic. Among the peculiar grammatical features of Berber may be mentioned two numbers (no dual), two genders and six cases, aril verbs with one, two, three and four radicals and imperative and aorist terse only. The Berber tongue is most common in Morocco and the western Sahara.
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