Ceramics in Tunisia
Tunisian ceramics is considered one of the best gifts that can be brought from Tunisia . Of course, such a purchase has a big minus - a high probability of breaking a thing during transportation, but it is covered with pluses - high quality, low price and magnificent appearance of pottery from Tunisia.
We will tell all important and interesting about the traditions of ceramics production in Tunisia and begin with a digression into history.
A bit of history
The production of dishes made of clay was also handled by Berbers - indigenous people of Tunisia. Let us recall one of the main pottery centers of the country - the city of Guellala on the island of Djerba . The name of the city is translated as "potters" from the Berber language.
Berbers produced primitive dishes, oil lamps and statuettes from clay, these items are now found by archaeologists in ancient burials. Ceramic figures are now used in some regions of Tunisia in ceremonies, for example, at weddings. It is believed that these figures scare away evil spirits.
A real breakthrough was made by the Phoenicians, who founded dozens of colonies and trade posts in the territory of modern Tunisia, the largest of which was Carthage. The Phoenicians brought here the technology of the potter's wheel, as well as their own style of coloring the dishes - red and black. Phoenician invention - amphorae with a sharp throat, convenient for transportation of oil or grain on ships.
Also a significant influence on the first traditions was provided by the Greeks, who actively traded with the Berbers and Phoenicians.
Carthage lost the Third Punic War with Rome and was completely destroyed, Punic (Carthaginian) culture over the next few centuries was almost completely destroyed - the Romans rebuilt the city, metal products were melted. Now tourists can only see one Punic building in Dugge , only one Punic city was found by archaeologists - Kerkuan , and individual specimens of Punic pottery can be seen in the museum of Carthage and the Bardo Museum .
The Romans brought their style of dishes - the red color, which is now popular. The Romans brought to Africa the style of "terra sigillata" (pictured left).
The greatest contribution to the Tunisian style of ceramics was made by the Arabs, who conquered these lands in the 7th century. It was they who introduced the fashion into brightly colored dishes and geometric patterns. The heyday of this style fell on the reign of the Aghlabid dynasty.
After the end of the reconquest in Spain, the Muslim refugees from Andalusia reached North Africa, they brought their notes. They added their elements to the Tunisian pottery style of the Turks, who conquered Tunisia in the 16th century. Affected by the French, who ruled the country from the late 19th to mid-20th century.
It is this blending of many styles that makes Tunisian ceramics so diverse and interesting. Tunisians have absorbed the best in design, and in matters of technology and quality. We can say that the history of Tunisian ceramics is a reflection of the history of Tunisia .
Main Centers and Styles
The most famous center for the production of ceramics in Tunisia is the city of Nabeul on the peninsula of Cap Bon. In ceramics from Nabeul, the Andalusian style is most felt - vegetable patterns and bright colors.
The second important center is the city of Guellala on the island of Djerba. Here the Roman style is more common with a coating of brown varnish and Punic style - black and red varnish. "Business card" of the city of Guellala is amphoras for storage and transportation of oil (pictured right).
In the workshops of Nabeul and Guellala, tourists are brought - to show the work of potters, an assortment of dishes and souvenirs and, of course, sell pottery at a price. In detail about such a trip read our article " Visiting pottery workshops in Tunisia ".
Callallin is now a district of the city of Tunisia, in the local pottery feel Punic, Arabic and Andalusian styles.
Moknin is located between the cities of Monastir and Mahdia . Here you can feel the traditional Berber, Greek and Arabic styles.
At first, a cylinder is formed from clay, now it is called in French manners - "boudin". The cylinder is cut, and these blanks are used on the potter's wheel to create round-shaped items. For products that are not round-shaped, special molds are used.
The product is fired in an oven at a temperature of more than 1000 degrees for 14 hours. After removal from the oven, cover with varnish and allow the varnish to dry. Next, a picture is drawn, each color forms its own layer, the layers are superposed in turn. After receiving the drawing, the product is put back in the oven for 12 hours, and afterwards the oven is opened to allow the product to cool slowly. In this technology lies the secret of high quality of Tunisian ceramics.
This ceramics must be hand painted, no automata or stencils.
What to bring
Tajin is a national dish from Morocco, which is widely distributed in all Maghreb countries, including Tunisia. Tajin is used to make a national Moroccan dish, which is called "Tajin". We discussed this in detail in the article " What to bring from Morocco ". A small selection of photos of Tajiks from Tunisia, see below.
In the workshop, Tajin costs 20-40 Tunisian dinars , and in the store can be found for 10-15 dinars.
When buying tadzhin it is worth remembering that it is decorative, created to serve dishes on the table, and sometimes it is culinary, adapted for cooking. The first variant is characterized by beautiful drawings, the second one is usually made without a picture and on top has a small hole. Define in advance what type you want to buy.
Important note! Even the best Tunisian ceramics is designed for temperatures up to 800 degrees. Natural gas, which is used in gas stoves, has a combustion temperature of up to 1600 degrees. We do not recommend the use of Tunisian dishes on gas stoves, in gas cookers, use gently on low heat.
Next tableware (pictured left) has an important feature - its lid can be tightly closed only in one position. This is a Tunisian invention. Such dishes are used for items that can not be taken to children. It is believed that the child, having opened such a can, can not close the lid tightly, and the parents find out that he took prohibited items. This pot costs 5-10 dinars in the workshop, and in the store you can buy for 3 dinars.
The tourists are popular kettles, lamps, candlesticks, ashtrays and other utensils. Some items are purely souvenir, for example, small ceramic shoes.
Especially popular are sausages made in the form of stars or "hands of Fatima," in the second case, such utensils also protects from evil forces. See the small photo gallery below.
Tips for tourists and prices
- Prices for ceramics are determined primarily by its size. It's easy to orient, a good price for a plate with a diameter of 20 centimeters is 5 dinars, calculate favorable prices based on this figure.
- Beforehand, think about how you will carry the ceramics, what you will wrap the dishes for safekeeping. If you are serious about buying, then grab a pimply film to Tunisia from home, so it will be safer.
- Do not rush into shopping, ceramics are everywhere, but you still need to take a closer look at prices. Postpone purchases on the last days of vacation, when you will already be well-oriented in prices and assortment. Read our article " How and where to buy gifts in Tunisia ".
- Before you give the seller money, carefully inspect the dishes from all sides. Ensure that the product does not have any chips or marked defects in the lacquer coating.
Successful purchase of Tunisian ceramics, and read interesting articles about this country on our website chinainfoguide.info ( links below ).
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