We are very curious to discover the richness of Tunisia in the artisanal field and for that we took into account Dardeco fair that took place in the Exhibition Center of Kram and most precisely in the hall of carpets, Ras weaving and vegetal fiber. This fair ,in fact, hosts every year many regions of the country including Kef, Sidi Bouzid, Gafsa, Kairouan and Gabes.
As soon as we arrived, we were stunned by the beauty of the Tunisian carpets exposed in this ephemeral museum installed just for the occasion of the fair. After having crossed this long and beautiful corridor, we just reached a line of carpets ! It‘s like a ream! the ream of carpets and we were just dazzled and astonished as we were immersed more and more into the space ! It’s like a dream and we were lost in this dream not knowing where to go and where to focus as we went further and further!
Suddenly, one unique stand was catchy with its colors and its unusual geometric patterns, so we decided to go further to discover the material and it’s nothing more than a vegetal fiber named Halfa.
We were all astonished when we saw the quality and the weaving finesse of these models because it’s been said that this vegetal fiber is difficult to work on. However, the products were amazing ! Note that the Halfa craftsmanship is a unique, ancestral savoir-faire that is found very frequently in the region of Kairouan and Kasserine.
We are very curious to know more about these handicrafts that’s why we decided to talk with the artisans who made these Carpets and Margoums.
We knew that this stand is from the Kairouan region, the brand’s name is “Daboussi Halfa” and it presents a meilimelo of carpets in different forms: checkerboard, plain and a degradation of colors. These carpets were made in a way they appear like they are made in cotton. We were really surprised everything is made with Halfa, no cotton, no wool and no linen in the composition. Remember the famous Hsira that most of us knew the time of our grandparents, which served as a mattress where we liked to lie down in the summer for a nap at the veranda. This Hssira is now made and newly designed in beautiful carpets to decorate our houses.
In addition to the rugs, these double sided Mergoums were also catchy. They are like paintings, like works of art ! We will hesitate to place them on our floors as they look to be made to decorate our walls.
The man who was sitting on the front of the stand is the son of the initiator of the this brand. The son stated that his dead father had always an avant garde side and that ten years ago, he traveled to Europe mainly to Germany to promote and sell his products abroad and they were a huge success!
It was since 2014, the son and his his wife Najet Fatnassi picked up the torch aiming to follow the same path of the father and to improve the work.
The son said: “ In previous times, we were making just baskets with Halfa”.
About ten years, my father decided to design and make new products because the market was stagnating. Over time, things had evolved and the thread of the vegetal fibers had become thinner, as thinner as cotton and wool yarn. So, my father decided to dye it and started to make Kilims, Margoums and carpets with bright colors.
In his father’s time, no less than fifty women worked in his workshop.
“My father started to train and hire more and more women and everything bagan to grow, several new models of carpets with different sizes were created. At that time, dad dared to do new things with the Halfa and he took risks because ,simply, he believed in this material.”
The know-how of the Halfa empowers the economic situation of the country because we are hiring many people in this sector. We must sensitize Tunisians about the immeasurable value of our heritage and craftsmanship which is trying to flourish. Tunisians must be the first to appreciate and consume these products. This will help us to evolve and continue to transmit this knowledge to the new generations whom in times of socio-economic crisis tend to get lost. Young people nowadays, no longer want to get involved in this field because work is not always at the rendezvous and precariousness sets in.
“However, these products please people because at every fair like Dardeco, there is a crazy world, different categories of people including men, women, foreigners and Tunisians who admire our products come to buy them and this enables us to liquidate our goods.”
In addition to these carpets, his father started to make small stools inspired from the Indian stools as well as chairs and high tables made from olive and forests wood in which the seats are handwoven using bright colors like fuschia pink, electric blue and orange.
This mixture of natural wood and gaudy colors gave a nice result. These little stools and colorful carpets with geometric motifs were like a ray of sunshine!
However, the so-called “Earth” colors were also used. They are derived from natural pigments like pomegranate skin, henna, wild Jderi tree, l3ar3ar or Snowber to obtain tones of honey, burgundy, caramel and mustard.
It is also necessary to note that you must clean them dry and one should keep in mind that Halfa is not only a vegetal fiber that makes beautiful carpets since it is also good for our health. It is ideal for people who suffer from allergies and it has an anti-stress power when walking on it.
So not only are they beautiful but, in addition, these carpets want us good! So, what do you need more? What are you waiting for to buy them?
Translated from French to English by Maroua Mejri.