Adventurers are those who choose to forge their own paths and not settle for what they are presented with. This is the story of Isabelle Eberhardt, a bold and brave voyager.

Brought up in the strictest and toughest of environments, Isabelle sought to break free from the reins of her domineering Father and to travel to the lands of Algiers – a place of “extraordinary attractions” as she had learnt from storybooks.

Growing Up And Escaping To Fantasy

Isabelle was born to a Russian noblewoman, Nathalie de Moerder, and a defrocked priest, Alexandre Trophimowsky. From young, her father confined her and her siblings in a villa, where they toiled long hours on the gardens and field, but were also given a firm foundation in languages and education.

As a daughter, Isabelle was not given any differential treatment. She did the same laborious work, dressed in boys’ clothes, and could only have short hair. Strangely, it was this upbringing and the languages she mastered that would come to define her life many years later.

 
Eberhardt in a short haircut and a sailor's uniform

Isabelle dressed in her Arabic clothing

Embracing The Male Personality And Her Persona As Si Mahmoud Saadi

There, Isabelle became fluent in Arabic and would dress up as a man so that she could roam freely and interact with visiting sailors and other locals. However, she lost first her mother, and then her father shortly after the move. Despite the tragedy, she felt a sense of untethering as she was now free to explore the world without any responsibilities.

To traverse through the Sahara desert with minimal interference, Isabelle took it a step further and adopted the persona of Si Mahmoud Saadi, a male muslim scholar. Armed with this identity, she visited brothels to observe and speak with people, and also smoked and drank heavily, all while recording these experiences in her journals.

 

The Perilous Episode That Challenged Her Resolve

In her journey, Isabelle was threatened with many dangers despite her dedicated effort to conceal her identity. For example, she was scorned by extremist Muslims who claimed that she had misappropriated and misrepresented the faith. She even had an assailant who attempted to murder her in the name of God, and was also suspected of being a spy on multiple occasions.

Despite the threats, she appeared nonchalant and even claimed after her near-death incident that “Before, I had to wait sometimes for months for the right moods to write. Now I can write more or less whenever I want.”

Isabelle lived till just 27 years of age but she had produced some of the most impactful works about Maghreb in her lifetime. What started out as a correspondent for an Algierian newspaper led to an appointment with General Lyautey, who engaged Isabelle to document the Arabic way of life while he was in command of the area of Aïn Sefra.

Barracund, her superior at the press would publish her work posthumously, and these stories that detailed the customs and culture of everyday life in Maghreb would thus become her legacy. In one short lifetime, Isabelle Eberhardt had lived her dreams of becoming a desert nomad and also documented her life at it. What lives on is not just her stories but also her spirit and dedication to adventure. A true blue voyager indeed.

Discover The Eberhardt Ring And Hoop Earrings

The Eberhardt Ring features five cabochon emeralds and black enamel stripes set against 18K Yellow Gold. The ring casts a striking contrast with its Art Deco design and popping colours.

When viewed from different angles, you'll see the composition of dots and dashes and the alternating rhythm of emerald green that's interspersed between the black curves.

 Eberhardt Ring
Eberhardt Ring
Eberhardt Ring

 

The Eberhardt Hoop Earrings are inspired by the glimpses of beasts and creatures as told in the voyagers' tales. Cabochon emeralds and a ring of white pavé diamonds line the loop of the hoops earrings, radiating a sense of glimmer and mystic. The colours and curves of the earrings creates a contrast and adds sophistication to the look.

 Eberhardt Hoop Earrings Eberhardt Hoop Earrings

 

Which one catches your eyes? Discover more unique pieces in the Voyager Collection.

 

Sources:

  1. Feminize Your Canon: Isabelle Eberhardt (Paris Review)
  2. The Many Faces of Isabelle Eberhardt (FSG, Work In Progress)
  3. Isabelle Eberhardt, the Nomad Queen of the Sahara (Flockeo)
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