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Story Publication logo July 11, 2012

Behind Algeria's Tattoos: A Portrait Series


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Facial tattoos, once popular among Chaouia women in Algeria, are now less prevalent. This project...


A generation of women in the Aurés Mountains of Algeria are marked by tattoos on their faces. Some shapes are alike; others are completely unique to the woman or to the place where she was raised. Drawing from surroundings, from clans, from the wandering and tattoo-giving adasiya, the markings tell the story of who a woman is.

These women, many of them over 70, have witnessed French colonization, World War II, and the Algerian war of independence. They lived their youths in a struggling country but held fast to their own traditions. The tattoos have survived because the women themselves have survived, with their faces to tell their tales.


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