BERBERS, the general name usually given to the tribes inhabiting the mountainous regions of Barbary and the northern portions of the great desert. It is derived, accord ing to Barth, either front the name of their supposed ancestor, err, which we recognize in the Lat. Afer, an African (see letter B); or from the Greek and Roman term JIarbari. The name by which they call themselves, and which was known to the Greeks and Romans, is Amiizigh, or Mazigh, 3Iazys, Amoshagh, Imosbagli, etc., according to locality, and whether singular or plural. These tribes have a common origin, and are the descendants of the aboriginal inhabitants of northern Africa, They appear to have been originally a branch of the Semitic stock; and although they have been conquered in succession by the Pluenirians, Romans, Vandals, and Arabs, and have become, in consequence, to some extent, a mixed race, they still retain, in great part, their distinct ive peculiarities. Till the 11 th c., the B. seem to have formed the larger portion of the population inhabiting the southern coast of the Mediterranean, from Egypt to the Atlantic ocean; but, on the great Arab immigrations which then took place, they were driven to the Atlas mountains, and to the desert regions where they now live. In Tripoli, the allegiance they pay to the Turks is little more than nominal; in Algeria, where they usually are termed Kabyles, they are yet unconquered by the French; and in Morocco. where they are culled " Shellooh," they are only in form subject to the emperor. The B. occupying the desert, who are 'called Tuaric. or Tawarek, by the Arabs. have become much mixed with the negro race. The number of the B. is esti
mated at between three and four millions. They arc of middle stature, sparely but strongly built. The complexion varies from a red to a yellow brown, and the shape of the head and the features has more of the European than the oriental type. The hair is, in general, dark, and the beard small. The eyes are dark and piercing. Their man ners are austere, and in disposition they are cruel, suspicious, and implacable. They are usually at war, either with their neighbors or among themselves; are impatient of restraint; and possessed of a rude, wild spirit of independence, which makes it impos sible for them to unite for any common purpose, or to make the advances in civilization which one might otherwise expect from their high physical organization. They live in clay-huts and tents; but, in their larger villages, they have stone-houses. They have herds of sheep and cattle, and practice agriculture, and are especially fond of the culti vation of fruit-trees. They possess water-mills and oil-presses. The mines of iron and lead in the Atlas are wrought by them, and they manufacture rude agricultural imple ments, as well as swords, guns and gunpowder. They formerly professed the Christian religion; but since the Arabs drove them from the fertile plains between the mountains and the sea, they appear to have retrograded in every way, and they are now among the most bigoted adherents of the religion of Mohammed; although their former creed has left a few traces, as in the names Jim: for God, and anfielus for angel, and ninny curious customs still observed among them. See Barth's Africa, vol. 1.