Bangladesh Artisans

Jewellery-making has been an important tradition of the Tuareg nomads for centuries. In 1993, a group of young people in Terhazer, a village near Agadez, the largest city of northern Niger, began crafting leather products and silver jewellery by hand. After travelling through France and selling their handicrafts from backpacks for several years, Illies Mouhmoud and his friends began The Union of Peasants (UPAP) in 1999 to help artisans and rural people.

camels

Today, UPAP is an organization of 170 skilled Tuareg silver jewellers and leatherworkers. The Tuareg people inhabit the Saharan regions of North Africa, such as Niger, Mali, Libya, Algeria and Burkina Faso. Dressed in blue robes, they sit beneath airy tents in the desert and create breathtaking pieces of art using a lost-wax method with the same simple tools and techniques of their ancestors. Sometimes, Tuareg people are called the “blue people” because their traditional coloured clothing stains their skin. Tuareg artisans use income from craft production to supplement their subsistence farming. This income has enabled villages to build and equip schools, pay for medicine, ensure safer births and build wells. 

artisans

Illies Mouhmoud is a master silver artisan in crafting traditional Tuareg jewelry. Using a lost-wax method to cast the silver, Mouhmoud first creates a wax mold, forms clay around the mold and then pours molten silver into the hardened clay. Using hand tools, he etches traditional designs and adds ebony inlay or jewels to create the finished piece.

jewellery

Traditionally, the etchings represented safe trade routes. Similar to a map, the open spaces represented a ‘no go’ zone while the etchings were the routes. Today, the traditional techniques are used for artistic purposes and every piece of Tuareg jewellery is believed to bring good luck.

artisan

Thankful for their customers, Mouhmoud said, “Your purchases have helped us stay in our homes, to stay where we live, where we were born and where our parents and grandparents were born.” Visit our website to browse our entire collection of beautiful Tuareg jewellery.

Necklace and earrings

Thankfully, most Canadians have never experienced war. In Cambodia, however, people are still healing from the destruction of the past. Years after the Vietnam War and the Pol Pot genocide, Cambodia’s countryside is still littered with bomb and artillery shell casings. Reminders of war are everywhere, and healing is an ongoing process. As a way to heal from the past, the makers of Rajana Association use these reminders of tragedy and transform them into beautiful pieces of jewellery that are wearable symbols of hope, peace and strength.

Sovann

Van Sovann is one of the jewellery makers working at Rajana. He is 38 years old and has been working with Rajana for 20 years. When asked what he wants to share with Canadians, he said, “Thank you very much for your support. When you buy our products, it provides me with the ability to take care of my family.”

Van Sovann

Rajana Association

According to Sovann, it takes six people to craft one piece of jewellery and depending on how complicated the design is, three to four pieces of jewellery can be made in one day. First, the recycled brass casings are sourced and collected from a village nearby. Next, using an acetylene torch, the casings are cut and assembled into earrings, bracelets and necklaces. Then, symbols of hope and peace, such as doves, are engraved into the metal by hand. Finally, each piece is polished and shined. Sovann enjoys welding and assembling the pieces of jewellery.

Each piece of jewellery is a symbol of hope, peace and strength. By transforming symbols of war into symbols of beauty, Cambodians like Sovann are supporting their families, healing from the past and looking forward to the future.

Browse our handcrafted bombshell jewellery collection online and wear these symbols of strength wherever you go.