Culture and Crafts
Tunisian artisans reflect the diversity of the cultural influences on its people in the arts and crafts that they produce. The strong Islamic influence on the society is tempered with the moderate and liberal outlook and values of the progressive Bourguiba government. Compared to other Arab states, women are more liberated and they have discarded even the traditional veil. Though foreigners are made to feel welcome with typical Tunisian hospitality, they are made aware that Tunisians do not encourage excessive displays of affection in public and men and women are expected to dress decently.
The fusion of Islamic and European influence is evident on the architecture, music and painting of Tunisia, as well as on the other fine arts. The wide variety of architectural styles covers every civilization that has ruled Tunisia, ranging from the earliest Roman and Punic style buildings (mostly ruins, now) to the red-tiled 'alpine' houses of 'Ain Draham, the Saracenic style commonly seen in the mosques, souks and medinas and the tribal Berber structures in the south of the country.
The traditional music of Tunisia is Malouf, with a typical Arab influence in its use of wind and stringed instruments. The classical Tunisian nouba has a strong Spanish influence while the chghoul and bachraf carry a Turkish strain. The French colonizers had their own artisans, who left their mark on the Tunisian architecture, painting and other arts and crafts. The French European style blended harmoniously with the traditional Islamic style, evolving a wide variety of elaborate craftwork and delicate inscriptions.
The craftsmen of Tunisia truly reflect the rich and diverse heritage of the nation. The exquisite creations in gold, silver, brass and copper have intricate designs with inlay work and sparkling enamel colours. The hand knotted silk and woolen carpets, with their Islamic designs, are internationally renowned. Hand woven blankets and rugs of camel and sheep wool, carved wooden furniture and curios, elaborately designed leather goods, ceramics, pottery, etc. are among the other craftwork of Tunisia.