Algeria’s Stained Women
In the early to mid-1900s, the Berber women of the Aurès mountains in northeastern Algeria tatooed palm trees, crosses, and small diamonds known as the “partridge’s eye” on their faces. In their culture, it was seen as beautiful and considered good luck. But after the country won its independence from the French in 1962, literacy rates increased, as did the influence of Islam. Algerians came to read in the Koran that tattoos are haram, or forbidden. The last generation of women to practice this ritual are now in their 80s or 90s, and they say that they regret the tattoos. To atone for their “sin,” they have donated all of their silver jewelry to charity.