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Tunisia

Nabeul's potteries

Huge pottery with oranges

As you come nearer to Nabeul from the main road coming from Hammamet, have a look at the roundabout, emblematic of the town.

It represents a huge pottery crowned by oranges. Bear in mind that the area of Cape Bon, which is under Nabeul's administration, produces three quarters of Tunisia's orange production.

Nabeul is also known as an important craft centre with activities such as pottery, earthenware, weaving, perfume distillation, as well as mat plaiting.

The best dates are not picked up in the area of Cape Bon: they mainly come from the palm trees in the South, around Kelibi.

A visit in the pottery workshop.

 potter of Nabeul

The workshop I visited stretches over 3 floors. I was first stunned by the number of potteries on display.

They are everywhere! Some of them are drying on shelves, awaiting the painting and heating. Others are set randomly in boxes on the floor.

Underground, craftsmen are at work. Potters'wheels are turning swiftly: pots, ashtrays, dishes, lamps and other pieces of earthenware are produced at an impressive speed.

The potters mould the earth with dazzling skill, sensitivity and agility.

 painting

Further away, women are painting, carving and arranging the last details. Simply sat on chairs and leant on the shelves, they work with precision at a record speed.

All the main colours used for potteries carry a specific meaning:

  •  
  •  
  • blue, the colour of the sky and the sea
  • green, the colour of hope and islam
  • yellow, the colour of the sun and the desert
  • white, the colour of purity

In the rest of the workshop, the goods are all labelled. No bargaining here, all the prices are fixed. If you want to make a good deal, don't buy immediatly.

Wait for the moment when you visit the suuq. The same products can be found, but there is one difference: in the suuq, you can (and should) haggle.

the drying of potteries Potteries at random  selling

Nabeul's suuq

 arcades

Nabeul's suuq stretches over some hundred meters at the end of Habib Thameur street.

Spices, tea, potteries, "narguilés", clothes, leather, jewells, and many other souvenirs are gathered randomly on the shelves.

If you've never been to the suuq, you will discover a very specific atmosphere.

"- The pleasure of the eyes". Many stallholders call upon you with this phrase. However, after the tenth shop you start having a good overview.

10 advices for the tourist-shopper:

 narguilés

  1. Don't buy immediately in the first shop you enter in. Take time to compare, all the more so if you purchase something expensive.
  2. Everything can be bargained.
  3. Feel free to come back later, compare and haggle.
  4. Say that the same good is less expensive in another shop you've been to.
  5. Look carefully at what you are going to buy. Some flaws could be hidden. If you notice any defect, tell it to the shop-keeper. It is a good reason for him to lower the price. 
  6. To start bargaining, divide the price by 4 or 5. It could appear excessive, but if you start too high, you will meet difficulties lowering the price.
  7. If you plan to buy a "narguilé", be careful. Some are designed for smoking, and others are only ornamental. It should be strong and hermetic. Check that there is a joint between the tub and the rest. Also check whether there is a valve to regulate the supply. Don't hesitate to take it in your hands. Compare the different shops. A good way to sort out the fake and the real narguilés is the size of the 'bell' ( the area where you put coal). If it is too small, it belongs to an ornamental narguilé. Finally, take advantage of the situation to buy tobacco. It is very good and tasty.
  8. Once you've reached a satisfying price, try and get an extra gift.
  9. Don't hesitate chatting with shop-keepers. They are usually nice and give you advices about the quality of products. If you are lucky, you will be offered mint tea.
  10. If you don't want to buy anything, don't hesitate to be firm and steady. Otherwise, you will spend the whole day visiting the shops.

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