Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


School of Communication

First Advisor

Phillip Chidester


The tradition of Moroccan Amazigh tattooing reflects the values and lived experiences of the communities that partake in this sacred practice. Adorning their fellow women with symbols of protection, tribe alliances and fertility, Amazigh women display their core values on face and body that come to represent their community. The power of these images and the women that wear them have stood the test of time, even in a newly male-dominated, Islamic Morocco that frowns upon body modification and promotes a nationalism that leaves little room for Amazigh tradition. In a corner of the world where literacy rates are low, Amazigh art tells the often untold story of a community that was once buried in the sand. The semiotic significance and politically gendered ramifications of Amazigh body art allows for the telling of multiple truths. The layered meanings of these tattoos shift not only between the women who wear them and those men who see them, but their meaning also appears to change depending on the age of the women who choose or choose not to participate in the practice. Is the tradition of tattooing Amazigh women an act of rebellion and ownership of one’s identity, or is it a form of cultural branding? This thesis will attempt to determine the overall signifying power of these tattoos within a complex, ever-changing matrix of often competing meanings.


Imported from ProQuest Mesouani_ilstu_0092N_11463.pdf


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