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Tunisia: 35 years on, Medina potter brings colour to his craft

Tunis-based traditional potter Ali Arfaoui has been practising his art for 35 years from his workshop on Sidi Saber in the Medina of Tunis, an UNESCO world heritage.   -  
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Cleared / AFP


In the medina of Tunis, Ali Arfaoui a traditional potter has his workshop.

As in much of the Mediterraean, the ceramics is an old tradition in Tunisia.

Ali has been working in the sector for the past 35 years. Like always, everything starts when he sits before his table and gets a bare clay plate in his hands: " I have nothing in my head. It's when I start working that the idea comes. At the very beginning, I don't know what I'm going to do. As soon as I pick up the piece, the idea of what I am going to do comes quickly."

Ali is passionate about crafts he did not study the art but rather mastered it alongside his brothers who passed it down to him. He hand-decorates every day life objects raging from plates, pots and tableware. He uses traditional design in eye-catching colours and his creations are sold in the souk of the Medina of Tunis, an UNESCO world heritage site.

"Speaking of orders, they depend on the time. We have a shop, where we take our products to, and it's in the souk near the Zitouna mosque, Ali says. Different people visit us, from tourists to Arabs, to Tunisians and Algerians... all nationalities."

Once the clay creations get out of the kiln, they'll leave Ali's workshop on Sidi Saber to be displayed for sale in the Medina. Other Tunisian cities like Sejnène or Nabeul are renowed for their ceramics production.

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