Tunisia- Saddle making in Tunisia is Fading Away

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Location: Tunis- Tunisia

Language: Arabic

Voice: Natural

Duration: 00:05:06

Source: A24

Restrictions: A24 Clients

Dateline: 30/01/2022

Storyline

The ancient city in Tunis has been known for embracing the saddles market that goes back to 300 years. Saddle makers complain about low demand, stating that such craft is fading away. With the industrial development, only three craftsmen are still in this business. According to those Tunisian craftsmen, producing these expensive saddles necessitates patience and great skills. Saddles vary in their types according to the material they use and the embroidery; some of the saddles are embroidered with silk threads and some with Sterling Silver Metalic Threads. Saddles makers strive to keep this craft alive by passing it to their sons, especially that there is no interest in learning such a craft

Shot list

-SOUNDBITE ( Fathi Al-Hassani – a saddle maker)

We have been in this business for 300 years. Saddle shops are now part of Souk Es Sarragine, which produces wallets and purses made of leather. In the past, we used to have a separate market for saddles, but because such business is nowadays vanishing, we became part of the Sarragine market

-SOUNDBITE ( Fathi Al-Hassani – a saddle maker)

Saddles differ in their sizes and shapes; some are designed for short-backed horses and some for long-backed horses. I believe saddle making is a difficult craft. We produce saddles with silk embroidery and others made with Sterling Silver Metalic Threads. Such craft necessitates a lot of time. Furthermore, these saddles were used as gifts for the president during the beys of Tunis’ era

-SOUNDBITE ( Fathi Al-Hassani – a saddle maker)

  • I’m about 70 years old, and I was first introduced to this craft in my early childhood. In this shop, I grew up seeing my father making saddles. Back then, my father didn’t allow me to play, and accordingly, I spent most of my childhood years here in this shop. In the holidays, I used to stay in the shop with my father, and when he leaves for his other job, I would stay in the shop. My father was deeply passionate about saddle making. However, this craft doesn’t generate real money. Due to the electricity and transportation costs, such craft isn’t rewarding
  • –         -SOUNDBITE ( Fathi Al-Hassani – a saddle maker)

I started in this business 50 years ago. Nowadays, only three artisans work in saddle making

  • –         -SOUNDBITE ( Fathi Al-Hassani – a saddle maker)

Are you asking me about teaching youths?  We want to, but the first thing those youths ask for is income.

-SOUNDBITE ( Fathi Al-Hassani – a saddle maker)

This saddle was embroidered with silk threads. We also have saddles made with Sterling Silver Metalic Threads. Moreover, we produce leather saddles known as “Fajra”, along with saddles made of copper. Some are specially designed for the high-jump competition in the equestrian sport

-SOUNDBITE ( Fathi Al-Hassani – a saddle maker)

Women do the embroidery part although it takes them a whole day to complete it. They make good money out of it. However, their daughters aren’t interested in learning the craft

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