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Art of Tunisia

September 01, 2018 2 min read

The more I know, the more I realise how ignorant I am.

Someone famous said something like that in a much more cogent way.

Completely true for me.

In the last year I learnt a little about the textiles of the Maghreb or North African region. And through them a little about the geography of that area. Quite a fascinating learning journey – for I imagine myself riding on camels with all the nomads from one region to another – travelling somewhat like Freya Stark….what a gift that would be if I could transport myself into her life and see all that she’d seen!

Coming back to the art of the region: I learnt that the motifs across their art forms – their silver jewelry, their henna,  their tattoos and their textiles are all common!

And that the color red, as it is in Asia, is associated with younger married women and particularly with brides (Older women wear darker shades of indigo and black.)

And that there are several formats in which traditional shawls were woven:

Ajar: Shoulder cloth

Kitfeya: Shorter Shoulder Cloth

Bakhnoug: Large Rectangular Blankets and finally

Mushtia: Large and long blankets

Here are two gorgeous Mushtia weavings:


And a magnificent Ajar



Am still learning about the technical aspects and the characteristics of the mergoum – the weaving that also has embroidery.

Soon, with a book on the subject I should be able to navigate my learning journey more productively.

Until then, let me just feast my eyes on the beauty that I certainly can enjoy even in my ignorance!

jaina mishra

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