Mauritania Table of Contents
The Toucouleur, also called the Halpularen, differ from the Fulbe primarily in terms of livelihood and dialect. Most Toucouleur live along the Senegal River in Mauritania and Senegal. As founders of the ancient kingdom of Takrur, they incorporated a number of local peoples, including the Wolof and Soninké, into their society. The Toucouleur speak Fulfulde, a dialect of Pulaar (the language of the Fulbe) that includes many borrowings from their neighbors and differs from Pulaar in pronunciation, vocabulary, and syntax. Most Toucouleur are sedentary farmers, in contrast with the nomadic Fulbe.
In addition to nobles, freemen, artisans, and slaves or former slaves, the Toucouleur also recognize social groupings based on age. Called fedde, these age-groups are involved in a number of rituals designed to ensure solidarity and pledges of friendship between families. Descent is patrilineal, and the patrilineage is the most important kinship group. Nonetheless, maternal kin also play important roles at critical points in an individual's life.
The Toucouleur are Muslim, and, like many of their neighbors, they believe in divination and supernatural power (baraka) associated with Islamic holy men. They are members of the Tijaniya Islamic brotherhood (see Religious Life , this ch.).
Data as of June 1988