Tin Hinan

Tin Hinan
   Ancestress of certain Kel Ahaggar groups. As mythmaking melts into oral histories to validate the stratified social organization of the Tuareg, there are many versions competing along a fragmentary and speculative spectrum when it comes to the reconstruction of the origins of the Tuareg. The origins story centers on the legendary queen Tin Hinan and her companion Takama. Tin Hinan is believed to have been a noblewoman of the Baraber tribe (the Aït Khabbash) and is alleged to have traveled in the company of her slave girl, Takama, from Tafilalet in Morocco to Ahaggar, where they are buried. Tin Hinan is thought to be buried on the bank of the Tiffert River near Abalessa and Takama in a smaller tomb nearby. Tin Hinan's tomb was excavated, and archaeological evidence dates it back to the fourth century A.D., three centuries before the arrival of Islam to North Africa. It is claimed that Tin Hinan and her slave girl, Takama, arrived in Ahaggar and found it uninhabited except for a pagan population called Isbeten, who were goat breeders and hunters living in caves in the mountainous areas of the country.
   A variation of this story is that Tin Hinan had a daughter, Kella, from whom the noble Kel Rala and Taytok groups claim descent, while Takama had two daughters from whom the vassal groups of the Dag Rali, Kel Ahnet, and Aït Lowayan are alleged to descend. Another variation says that Tin Hinan had three daughters who bore the names of animals: Tinhert (antelope), the ancestress of the Inemba group; Tahenkot (gazelle), the ancestress of the Kel Rala; and Tameroualt (doe-rabbit), the ancestress of the Iboglan. Although there is some question about which Kel Ahaggar groups are descended from Tin Hinan, the noble matrilineal Kel Rala and Taytok groups claim undisputed descent from Tin Hinan.
   A further Ahaggar variation reported by Johannes Nicolaisen claims that all Tuareg have a common ancestor, as they descended from a woman called Lemtuna, who is believed to be the ancestor of certain Berber groups in Ghadames in Libya. Most Moroccan Berbers trace their origins to Lemtuna's sister, who was the ancestress of the Baraber. Most Tuareg scholars argue that the noble/ master-slave/client narrative justifies the annual tributes of the vassals to the nobles.

Historical Dictionary of the Berbers (Imazighen) . . 2014.

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