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Tunisia was always known for its weaving. Already five centuries has passed , the Greek poets celebrated “the carpets and embroidered cushions of Carthage”. The first centuries of Islam brought them fame and notability. Indeed, the Aghlabite emirate of Kairouan has played a part of the suzerainty of the caliph tribute in the form of carpet. Centuries later, the Portuguese embarked to their African colonies carpet of Tunisian origin. Also during the first half of the last century, the Tunisian expertise has been developed in a typical weaving, inspired by oriental carpets impregnated with regional and ethnic, in addition to motifs from ceramics and embroidery that shaped the effects of fashion and styles, tailored to the needs of customers and their evolving tastes.

Spinning and weaving wool were among the first things to teach a young girl in the countryside, but also in cities, until recently. According to tradition, when at the end of a woman’s visit and she is about to leave her hostess they joke about it. The hostess would ask if her company was enjoyable the guest would replied, “If I had brought my distaff” implying “I would have stayed for longer”. Furthermore warping and cutting a rug were ceremonial occasions and family celebrations, so the event was considered socially important.

Currently, the manufacture of carpets in homes has fallen sharply. We no longer necessarily see, as of old, a trade installed in each home with women and especially young girls working on it all day. However in some areas, the manufacture of carpets has become a standardized activity and managed institutionally.

HISTORY

Some towns are more famous than others in carpet making and weaving. Topping the list we find: Kairouan, Medenine Mahdia. Nabeul, Kasserine, Beja and Sousse. Those towns and cities are renowned for their excellent carpets. When classifying carpet, it is divided into four main varieties: Berber carpet, carpet classical, semi-classical Carpets Style.

The exclusive Kairouan carpet, which was named after the city, was introduced by “Kamla”, the daughter of a governor of Turkish origin. According to the records, She have spent two years to make the first model,k which was inspired by her father’s carpet. Since then, the carpet Kairouan spread throughout Tunisia.

As for the craft of weaving, it became an exclusively female activity and a very popular craft. The “Kairouan”, the most famous of all, is a rustic carpet made by natural or polychrome wool. Its aspect is due to a wide border consisting of parallel strips or strung geometrically stylized floral motifs. That design leaves a room for a wide hexagonal field, held in the middle by a central motif in a diamond shape.

As Kairouan is the oldest and most renowned carpet center in Tunisia, Kairouan Carpet selection is huge but can be summarized in four categories (Alloucha – Zarbia – Mergoum and Klim).

THE ALLOUCHA

Early in the century, the introduction of artificial dyes and their misuse have somewhat altered the quality of the Tunisian carpet. This made a Kairouanian family to create new type of hand-knotted carpet and called it “Alloucha”, this kind of carpet uses fibers with natural color palette of sheep wool: From white to black through gray-beige and brown with wide borders consist of parallel stripes which are scattered geometrically stylized floral motifs giving way to a broad central field provided spandrels of the corners. The hexagonal field thus formed is held in the middle by a central diamond-shaped pattern.

This type of carpet has had mixed fortunes before winning internationally to the point that Kairouan is sometimes identified with it.

THE ZARBIA

Creativity and artistic talent of Kairouan artisans improved the basic schematic of “Alloucha”, by an infinite variety of patterns and colors creating a masterpiece of harmony and elegance. This is the Zarbia to high wool dominated by reds browns. This interest in new products has led to the enrichment and diversification of models of repertoire with new creations inspired from Tunisian heritage and responding to the changing customer’s tastes.

KLIM AND MARGOOM

The klim is a woollens consists of horizontal stripes of different colors dominated by blue and green. It is used as a wall hanging or as carpet. The mergoum is also a woollens. It differs from klim by Regma, woven motifs that decorate it. While klim has identical faces, consisting of simple parallel strips weaving, mergoum features a place to net geometric patterns and to melt appearance.

The mergoum is made of a thicker weaving, while the klim more suitable for the soil. The “Oasis Ouerdref” is an important center of major Klims production, it gave its name to many beautiful pieces.