Posted in Bamako, Koulikoro, Life, MALI, Segou, Timbuktu

Morning Chores

At Koulikoro

At Timbuktu

At Segou

At Bamako

A normal morning scenes that you would able to see around Bamako and in other part of Mali. People selling of morning breakfast, clothes washing, cooking, bathing etc


Posted in Art & Culture, MALI, Timbuktu, Travel

Visit to Touareg Family

Visit to Touareg Family

Mohamad Be Hadani


On the third day my itinerary is to visit a Touareg family.  The weather in the evening normally after 4.00pm is quite good, as the sun not hot as at noon and with the wind blowing indeed it is the right time to promenade.


As scheduled with my tour guide, Al-Hadi Toure came around 5.00pm.  I proceeded with him to visit Mohamad Be Hadani family.


Visit to Touareg Family

Mohamad showing his skill in handicrafts making 


Mohamad’s came from a village about 250km north of Timbuktu in the Sahara Desert.  Normally he comes to Timbuktu twice in a year for barter trading.  He will brings salt slabs, goats or cattle for exchange with rice, flour, millet, sugar etc.  Besides that his family also sells Touareg’s jewelery and handicrafts.


Visit to Touareg Family

Mohamad also a blacksmith making sword and knife


The Touareg are sometimes called the “Blue People” because the indigo pigment in the cloth of their traditional robes and turbans stained the wearer’s skin dark blue. The traditional indigo turban is still preferred for celebrations, and generally Touaregs wear clothing and turbans in a variety of colors.


Visit to Touareg Family

Mohamad Be Hadani’s products.  His price is expensive.  You have to bargains.  As touareg tradition, the price bargaining also takes three times or three offer prices 


Much Touareg art is in the form of jewelery, leather and metal saddle decorations called Trik, and finely crafted swords. Among their products are: Tanaghilt or Zakkat (the ‘Agadez Cross’ or ‘Croix d’Agadez’); the Touareg Takoba, many beautiful gold and silver-made necklaces called ‘Takaza‘; and earrings called ‘Tizabaten


Visit to Touareg Family

Mohamad’s son 


Visit to Touareg Family

Mohamad’s another son 


As Touareg tradition, Mohamad offers me touareg tea.  The serving of mint tea is a ceremonial form, especially when prepared for a guest. Whereas cooking is women’s business, the tea is a male affair: the head of family prepares it and serves to the guest, usually three glasses of tea.


Visit to Touareg Family

Mohamad’s wife and daughter 


Visit to Touraeg Family

Part of Mohamad’s family 


Preparation of touareg tea normally of green tea (usually Chinese tea, e.g. gunpowder, chun mee, or zhu cha), fresh mint leaves in large quantity and a lot of sugar. The tea is first put in the teapot and adding a small quantity of boiling water, that is poured out after one minute, to makes the tea tasted less bitter. Mint and sugar are added.  Tea and water then heated until its boiling. After three to five minutes, a glass is served and poured back in the pot two to three times, in order to mix the tea. Tea is poured into glasses from height in order to swirl loose tea leaves to the bottom of the glass.


Visit to Touareg Family

Mohamad pumping air to make the charcoal burns 


Drinking of three small cups of touareg tea having the meaning as the saying “the first cup is sweet for strength; the second is sweet for life; and the third is sweet for love”.


Visit to Touareg Family

Serving the touareg tea 


To my friends out there who always asked for beautiful touareg’s girl, sorry to tell you, Mohamad did not wish to discuss about that with me, probably I am not handsome and rich enough.  But to console you all, here is the photo of one and the most beautiful touareg girl from Timbuktu. 


Visit to Touareg Family

(Sorry friends, it is only a reproduction from Malitel’s table calendar that I found in Hotel Bouctou’s reception desk)



Posted in Art & Culture, Islam, MALI, Timbuktu, Travel

Timbuktu, Islam and Knowledge

West Africa received the presence of Islam through North African traders who traveled with their camel caravans south of the Sahara. By the 14th century there were already Muslim sultanates in such areas as Mali, and Timbuktu in West Africa become centre of Islamic knowledge.  The process of the Islamisation of Africa continues even during the colonial period and continues until today.  Most Africans Muslims are caring on a tradition which has had practically as long a history in certain areas of sub-Saharan Africa as Islam itself.

The University of Timbuktu was established in Mali, comprised of three schools; namely the Masjid Sankoré, the Masjid Djingare Ber and the Masjid Sidi Yahya. During its height, the university at Timbuktu had an average attendance of around 25,000 students and 180 quran madrassah within a city of around 100,000 people. There were four levels within the University curriculum that included the “Circle of Knowledge”, the “Superior Degree”, the “Secondary Degree”, and the “Primary Degree”. Teachings mostly consisted of Quranic principles; however, literature covering topics of science, mathematics, and medicine are also observed, among other disciplines.


Timbuktu Islam and knowledge

Masjid Sankoré


Sankoré Madrasah, Masjid Sankoré or The University of Sankoré, is one of three ancient centers of learning located in Timbuktu, Mali.  When the Mali Empire during the rein of Kanka Moussa gained direct control over the city of Timbuktu in 1324, Kanka Moussa brought the Granada architect Abu Ishaq es Saheli from Egypt to help build mosques and palaces throughout the empire. Abu Ishaq es Saheli designed and saw the construction of one of Sankore’s first great mosques. The foundations of the previous structure were laid around 989 A.D. on the orders of the city’s chief judge Al-Qadi Aqib ibn Mahmud ibn Umar.  A local Mandinka lady, esteemed for her wealth, financed her plans to turn Sankoré into a world class learning institution with professors on par with any outside of Africa.


Timbuktu Islam and knowledge   Timbuktu Islam and knowledge   Timbuktu Islam and knowledge

Masjid Sankoré, the minaret and view from the street


The Sankoré Masjid had been a fully staffed Madrassah or university with the largest collections of books in Africa. The level of learning at Timbuktu’s Sankoré Masjid was on a par with other Islamic centers in the world. The Sankoré Masjid was capable of housing 25,000 students and had one of the largest library in the world with between 400,000 to 700,000 manuscripts.


Timbuktu Islam and knowledge

Masjid Djingarey Ber

The Masjid Djingarey Ber was a famous learning centre of Mali built in 1327 and designed by Abu Ishaq es Saheli who was paid 200 kg (40,000 mithqals) of gold by Kankan Moussa, emperor of the Mali Empire.  Except for a small part of the northern facade which is limestone, the Djingareyber Mosque is made entirely of earth plus organic materials such as fibre, straw and wood. It has three inner courts, two minarets and twenty five rows of pillars aligned in an east-west direction and prayer space for 2,000 people.


Timbuktu Islam and knowledge   Timbuktu Islam and knowledge   Timbuktu islam and knowledge

The minaret, another view of Masjid Djingarey Ber.  House of the architect Abu Ishaq from Andalusia


Masjid Djingarey Ber was on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1988 and currently under massive restoration and rehabilitation which funded by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC).


Timbuktu Islam and knowledge

Masjid Sidi Yahya

The Masjid Sidi Yahya was built in 1400 by Sheikh El-Mokhtar Hamalla in expectation of a great holy person.  After 40 year without Imam, in 1441 Mohamed Naddah, the city-governor of Timbuktu, appointed his close friend Sidi Yahya from Andalusia (Sidi Yahya Tadelsi or Sidi Yahya Al Andulusi) as its first imam and head professor.  This marked the beginning of the mosque as a madrassah and a great centre of learning for the region.


Timbuktu Islam and knowledge   Timbuktu Islam and knowledge

The main entrance of Masjid Sidi Yahya and the madrassah 

Timbuktu Islam and knowledge   Timbuktu Islam and knowledge   Timbuktu Islam and knowledge

Imam Sidi Yahya’s room and later his tomb.  Mohamad Kanta, the caretaker of Masjid Sidi Yahya explaining the history of Masjid.  House of Imam Cheick Kunte HAIBALLA


Imam Sidi Yahya was said live in simple life only within the mosque.  When he died his body was buried in his room. The external main courtyard located in front of the mosque is used as reading space and gathering or ceremony. The back courtyard is a cemetery where the imams of the school are buried in an underground area located to the north of the mosque and now that is no longer in use


Timbuktu Islam and knowledge   Timbuktu Islam and knowledge

Main front courtyard of Masjid Sidi Yahya, is used for Quran reciting and other activities and ceremonies.  Back courtyard (south), a cemetery of imams and others

Timbuktu Islam and knowledge     Timbuktu Islam and knowledge     Timbuktu Islam and knowledge

Mehrab of Masjid Sidi Yahya and its interior

Masjid Sidi Yahya closely resembles the other famous mosques Sankore and Djingarey Ber. Main differences are it is not as tall and the doors are ornately made reflecting Moroccan architecture influence. The mosque has three rows of pillars facing north-south.


Timbuktu islam and knowledge

Bibliotheque of Ahmad Baba

Timbuktu Islam and knowledge   Timbuktu Islam and knowledge

The Institute of Higher Learning and Islamic Research of Ahmad Baba (IHERIAB) 


The Institute of Higher Learning and Islamic Research of Ahmad Baba (IHERIAB) is founded by the government of Mali, with collaboration of Unesco. Ahmad Baba al-Massufi, Ahmed Baba Es Sudane, or Ahmed Baba, the black (1556–1627), was a medieval West African writer, political provocateur and scholar of Masjid Sankore. Through out his life, he wrote more than 40 books and is often noted as having been Timbuktu’s greatest scholar and mujaddid.


Timbuktu islam and knowledge    Timbuktu islam and knowledge

Commentary of Al-Quran 1241 and Mushaf Al-Quran written with gold

Timbuktu Islam and knowledge    Timbuktu islam and knowledge

Another manuscripts of pharmacology written by Sidi Ahmae b Umar ar-Raqadi al-Kunti in 1066 Hijriyah on display and text of Medicine by Ibn Sina (Avicenna)


IHERIAB’s library holds some of these manuscripts in order to restore and digitize them. More than 18,000 manuscripts have been collected by IHERIAB, but an estimate said there are about 400,000-700,000 manuscripts in the region.  There are many other private bibliotheques in Timbuktu where thousands of manuscripts are kept. Some manuscripts were taken and kept to Paris, London, Spain and other parts of Europe. Some manuscripts were buried underground, while others were hidden in the desert or in caves. Many are still hidden today.


Timbuktu Islam and knowledge   Timbuktu Islam and knowledge   Timbuktu Islam and knowledge

Boubacar SADECK is an art writer who copying and transfering of the 16th century manuscripts on to new medium, operates his works at Gordon Laing’s house.  Shown are the manuscripts and his art works.


Timbuktu Islam and knowledge   Timbuktu Islam and knowledge   Timbuktu Islam and knowledge

Ecole pour Talibes.  One of many Madrassah for Quran in Timbuktu and this madrassah also house of orphanage.  The Quran’s scripted board and the boy reading the Quran.


Timbuktu Islam and knowledge   Timbuktu Islam and knowledge

 Another one of many masjid in Timbuktu.  Masjid Alpha Sekou SARAIKEINA and its prayer hall 


During my research, I have found this 35 minutes documentary video with title of Journey to the Empire of Knowledge narrated by Dr. Abdullah Hakim Quick (posted by zaman27).  Let you enjoy viewing the great history of Timbuktu.



Journey to the Empire of Knowledge 



Recently I have found another interesting documentary by journeyman pictures with title of Treasures of Timbuktu.  Let we discover the treasures.