Preserve an endangered language by turning it into art

One way to preserve an endangered language is to turn it into art. For over twenty years, Moroccan artist Hamid Kachmar has been using his paintings to help keep alive an embattled, indigenous language. Tifinagh is the ancient script of the Berbers, a minority ethnic group in Morocco to which Kachmar belongs.

Tifinagh has been suppressed historically in Morocco, but Kachmar makes the script’s intricate symbols the main element of his colorful art. In some pieces, like the first one below, “Timitar 1 Symbols in Symbiosis,” the symbols are presented in neat fashion, as if they were being catalogued. In others, like the second image, “Tafsut Berber Spring,” Kachmar uses the symbols in more abstract form, to createimages that evoke the Berber language’s complicated place in Moroccan culture.

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