Kesra Traditional Museum

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Kesra is ignored by the guide books. Apart from a waterfall which cascades down a rock face and is a popular place for locals to enjoy themselves, the only reason to stop is to visit the newly opened museum in the Old town.

The old Berber town stands on top of the cliff above the waterfall. There are the scant remains of what is described as a Byzantine town wall.

The museum is free and opened in 2009 in a building in the old town. It concentrates on the traditional role of women in Tunisian society and has labels in Arabic, French and English.

There are several well laid out rooms on the ground floor. The upstairs has a display of a few pictures from the area and nice toilets.

There are display cases of cooking utensils with jugs, dishes and plates. Next to these is a reconstruction of a summer kitchen with equipment used. This included a brazier (kanoun) with bowl (borma) above used to cook meat and vegetables and Keskés above in which coucous was steamed. A sheepskin hanging up (chekwa) was used to make buttermilk. There was a wooden chopping block, pestle and mortar and a hand operated quern.

In another case was a display of clothing including the qacchabiya which was a winter coat made from a single piece of cloth with a hood. There were examples of the tools used in washing, carding and spinning wool.

The display on weddings included examples of wedding clothes and the contents of the Alegua which was given by the groom’s mother to the bride before the wedding and contained the ingredients needed to decorate her hands with henna. There were Korsi baskets which were used to collect donations before the wedding.

There were a couple of cases with jewelry which included silver anklets and earrings. There was a display on circumcision, information on warding off the evil eye and death rituals.

The museum is too new to feature in the guide books and doesn’t have a web site. Apart from a couple of press releases there is no information on the web. Therefore it gets few visitors which is a shame as we thoroughly enjoyed the visit and learned a lot. We were taken round by a young woman who was so obviously proud of the museum and desperate to encourage more visitors.

It can be visited in a day from Kairouan. Link it with a visit to Maktar (separate review).

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