Museum of Islamic Art

Kairouan, Tunisia

The Museum of Islamic Arts of Kairouan is located in Raqqada, in a former presidential palace that was converted into a cultural and educational centre in 1986. It contains four rooms on the main floor and upstairs.

On the ground floor are:
– The ceramics room, which houses objects dating back to the Aghlabid, Fatimid and Hafsid eras. Those of the Aghlabid era are characterised by the use of metallic lustre glazes, archaic Kufic script and stylised zoomorphic and anthropomorphic images. This room displays a collection of blue Iznik ceramic tiles from Anatolia.

– The hall of the Great Mosque, which houses religious objects such as friezes with floral and epigraphic motifs that form part of the roofing. There is also a reconstruction of the mihrab from the mosque and the door of the maqsoura (private enclosure).

– The Lapidary Inscriptions Room, which is under development, will house flat, prismatic and column-barrel gravestones from the Kairouan Cemetery. It will also contain the inscription of the foundation of the city of Sabra al-Mansouriya, characterised by its writing style and its imposing size.

- The Sabra al-Mansouriya Hall, expected to receive objects from the Sabra excavation, now contains the casting furnace found on the same site.

The glass cases of the coin and jewellery room hold a large collection of coins dating back to the Aghlabid, Fatimid, Hafsid and Ottoman eras, showing their evolution over time. This room also contains glass objects from the Sabra site and the lantern from al-Mouiz.

The manuscript room contains a rich collection of parchment Qur’an folios from the library of the Great Mosque of Kairouan displaying the evolution of writing and ornamentation styles (3rd / 9th to the 13th / 19th century). The collection owes its unique reputation to the famous “blue parchment” of the 4th / 10th century. Enclosing these folios are leather bindings embossed with floral and geometric designs.

An exhibition such as this one helps us interpret the history of the city of Kairouan. The newer Sabra Hall, the Hall of Lapidary Inscriptions and the Hall of the Great Mosque of Kairouan will further our understanding.

Musée des arts islamiques
T +216 77 228126
F +216 77 228469

Lotfi Abd Eljaoued

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