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ouled naïl - photos Albert
Their earnings in the form of gold but mostly silver coins, were woven into necklaces and other jewellery that both ornamented their costumes and provided visible evidence of their success. Once a sufficient dowry had been danced together, finding a suitable marriage partner among their own tribe wasn't too difficult anymore.
Her wealth made her an important woman. And like any other girl her final goal was simply raising a family.

Ouled Nail (1)

One of the best examples of ancient tribal style bellydancing is the dance of the Ouled Naïl, an Algerian tribe where the women used to travel from city to city to earn their income. At the end of their dancing carreers, the Naylates returned to their native villages to marry.
The mystery of the Ouled Naïl is something that never fully has been unveiled although the dancers of the Ouled Nail didn't leave much to unveil at the end of their dance.

The costumes of the women of the Ouled Nail were - until the first half of the 1900's - truly magnificent.
Heavily made up eyes darkened with kohl, faces tattooed and adorned with heavy jewellery. Their oily hair worn in braids on both sides of the face,covered with the typical diadem was sometimes looped up and held in place by big earrings.

They went unveiled even when almost all the women in North Africa were covered. Jewellery like bracelets, silver anklets, earrings and necklaces had their distinctive look and were very much sought after by tourists in the first half of the twentieth century. When they earned enough they could afford ostrich feathers to adorn their tiara. They are known to wear huge bracelets with studs and spikes an inch or two long projecting from them in order to protect themselves.

After the season they often returned to their home village joining a caravan that followed a pattern of oases. A paladin sheltered the sky and kept the Nailiyat safe from the burning sun.
The men of the Ouled Naïl tribe played their taunting rhythms on bendir, accompanying the mesmerizing beat by repetitive melodies on zurna and gasba, the long edge blown flute.

More on the Algerian Nailates - the Ouled Nail tribe

Please do not use the images on this page without permission. All artworks are copyright and property of the owner, the Bellydance Museum and using them without permission is unlawful or in other words, stealing...

  1. Etienne Dinet and the Ouled Naïl
  2. more pictures of Ouled Nail

ABDEL HAZIM: Bellydance revolutionsABDEL HAZIM: Bellydance revolutionsABDEL HAZIM: Tribal BellydanceABDEL HAZIM: Tribal beats including HatshepsutABDEL HAZIM: Wadi haflaABDEL HAZIM: transcendent bellydanceABDEL HAZIM ensemble: Dancing in the oasis