Tunis, Kairouan and Carthage Free PDF book (1906) Travel and Descriptions with Illustrations

Tunis, Kairouan and  Carthage Free PDF book (1906) Travel and Descriptions with Illustrations

Tunis, Kairouan and  Carthage

Excerpt from the author's introduction

Tunis, as one finds here to-day, retains so much of her Oriental character, and offers such a rich and varied menu to those who feel the glamour of the East, that to some it will doubtless seem sufficient to feast their eyes on the fascinating pictures revealed at every turn of her tortuous streets, careless of her origin and her chequered history during 3,000 years.

 There are those who may think that there are interest and excitement enough in wandering beneath the vaulted roofs of her arcaded bazaars, so richly furnished with masterpieces of the carpet- weaver's art, the embroiderer's skill, the metal- worker's cunning, and the potter's craft. Many a pleasant hour may be spent in examining at leisure the strange medley of costly art treasures, and valueless but attractive rubbish, so temptingly displayed by dusky merchants, whose dignity of appearance and suavity of manner seem to forbid the discussion of price. It is true that dignity will not prevent them from asking five times the market

Tunis, Kairouan and Carthage

value of their goods, but no one can resent what is but a delicate form of flattery, a testimony to their exalted estimate of the financial resources of the customer. One may accept the compliment, and admire the traditional etiquette, while firmly refusing to pay the price. But if it is delightful to find oneself surrounded by things fashioned on an old tradition, and free from the dull uniform imprint of the machine, it is still more interesting to see the craftsmen at their work.

To watch the dyers as they plunge their wool and silk into huge terra-cotta vessels of antique design, their bare limbs deeply stained by the colors employed; to note with what incredible rapidity the silk- weaver evolves, in many harmonious colors, the intricate pattern of his design; to observe how tightly the carpet-maker compresses his little tufts of wool, and thereby learn how the Eastern carpet lasts for centuries where its European counterpart only lasts for years; to marvel at the patience of the metal-worker as he laboriously chisels, on a copper bowl, the lines, and spaces which will afterward be filled with rarer metals by the damascener's art.

In the labyrinthine maze of sinuous streets, it is easy to lose one's way; but one can always find it again by the compass of a familiar dome or graceful minaret, which stands out in startling brilliance of purest white against a low-toned sky, and then one feels that in losing and finding one has enjoyed a double pleasure.

Author: Graham  Petrie
Publication Date: 1906

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