THE POETRY OF THE FEMININE
« Ta Teggatet imzad » means “the women who play the violin”,
the poetic knowledge [=skill] is essentially feminine.
he Imzad is a single-stringed violin.
More than a musical instrument, it is a symbol of power, representative of music that is dedicated to a social structure, and to an organization specific in space and time. This instrument is reserved for women. No other instrument is associated with the Imzad. The man recites poetry solo. With the tunes of the Imzad, the man sings and only the sound of his voice is allowed to combine with that of the instrument.
Both Tuareg man and woman are artists. Whatever aspect in life is evoked, whatever the details, everything is rhymed or sung. The performance itself is regarded as being uniquely special; the charm is in its atmosphere. Up to the present day, the women play the Imzad and the men sing and recite the poems.
The woman holds the instrument across her lap (a little like a new-born baby). The half-round calabash – the body of the Imzad – lies on the woman’s thighs and knees. Her left hand grasps the upper end of the instrument’s neck, and may rest on her left knee.
Now and again the musician rubs the stretched horsehair strands of the bow with a lump of gum-tree resin. The skin of the imzad is often decorated with symbols or covered in Tifinagh inscriptions indicating the owner’s name; sometimes the surface also carries verses written by an admirer.