Tunisia- Gypsum Engraving in Tunis Reflects a Distinctive Tunisian Architecture Character


Location: Tunis- Tunisia

Language: Arabic

Voice: Natural

Duration: 00:05:07

Source: A24

Restrictions: A24 Clients

Dateline: 11/02/2022


The ancient art of gypsum engraving still persists in Tunisia despite a declining number of specialized artisans. Throughout history, different civilizations in Tunisia preserved the art of gypsum engraving and were keen on creating distinguished artwork that can be seen up until today. Gypsum engravings vary in their patterns as they can be seen on mosques and museum walls and ceilings. Artisans engrave old buildings, as part of innovation, preserving Tunisian heritage.


-SOUNDBITE (Shukri bin Ali – Craftsman)

When I first started engraving gypsum, it was a hobby, but then it became my source of income. I used to work with the Association for the protection of the ancient city (Medina of Tunis) in restorations of historical landmarks including Islamic shrines

-SOUNDBITE (Shukri bin Ali – artisan)

Tourists enjoy seeing the Tunisian civilization and that’s why we resort to engraving to restore historical landmarks in the ancient city in Tunis. Tunisian engineers noticed that engravings attract tourists and therefore started to integrate engraving in their designs

-SOUNDBITE (Waleed Al Harmy- artisan)

Engraving is a well-known profession among Tunisians, Moroccans, and Algerians. However, in Tunisia, engraving is fading away and that’s why many people don’t know that there are Tunisian artisans who still work in this profession

-SOUNDBITE (Waleed Al Harmy- artisan)

Engraving is a spectacular profession as it combines different cultural heritages including the Moroccan, the Tunisian, and the Moriscos, which came from Spain and Andalusia. However, the number of specialized artisans is declining, especially those who master the art of Arabic engraving patterns. There are few in Gabes, Sfax, and some in Tunis  

–SOUNDBITE (Shukri bin Ali – artisan)

The government used to give vocational training for 3 years, where artisans learn the theoretical and practical aspects. I supervised the graduation of 35 artisans

-SOUNDBITE (Waleed Al Harmy- artisan)

In 2021 or 2013, the National Institute of Handicrafts Tunisia closed. There were no longer any artisans and children weren’t interested to learn

-SOUNDBITE (Waleed Al Harmy- artisan)

Engraving isn’t that easy as it needs practicing and learning. An experienced engineer doesn’t necessarily know how to engrave

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