Dar Ibn ‘Abd Allah
In the Medina, Tunis, Tunisia
Hegira 1211 / AD 1796
Hadj Muhammad al-Kossentini.
We have known the history of this palace since 1796, from the deeds which quote Hadj Muhammad al-Kossentini as owner of the premises. In 1801, Sliman al-Hanafi took possession of them. He was promoted from high military functionary to commander of the army on marrying the daughter of the bey. The palace benefited from extensive improvements and refurbishments. In 1875 Tahar ibn 'Abd Allah, a silk weaver and landowner, acquired the palace and gave it his name. In 1905, a French Orientalist painter by the name of Albert Aublet bought the palace and occupied it until 1941. At that date, the Directorate of Fine Arts and Public Instruction installed the Office of Tunisian Art there. After Tunisian independence, the Minister of Cultural Affairs converted the premises into the Centre of Popular Arts and Traditions on the first floor and into the Tunis Regional Museum (Tunisian life in the 19th century) on the ground floor.
The different sections of the Dar Ibn 'Abd Allah Palace stand on either side of a small square, which used to be a private passageway protected by doors.
The grand entrance is a large studded door set in a surround of richly-sculpted pink stone. The first hallway contains benches set under walls which are covered with Quallaline ceramic panels. The vault is lined with sculpted plaster. The courtyard is protected by two further off-set hallways.
The courtyard is surrounded on four sides by porticoes, both on the ground floor and on the first floor. The lightly fluted columns with neo-Corinthian capitals are of Carrara marble from Italy, as are the door and window frames, the paving and the fountain with its three basins.
Under the galleries, the facades are identical. In a wall panelled with green and yellow ceramic tiles, there are two windows on either side of a central door with a salient surrounding frame. The upper portion consists of a wide strip of carved stucco representing vases of foliate scrolls on a smooth background. The apartments on both floors are in the classic 'T' formation. They consist of a sunken central floor, opposite the entrance, furnished as a salon with three benches. This area is flanked by two small bedrooms. There are two lateral alcoves containing beds with wooden canopies.
Among the richest elements of this palace are the wooden shelf panelling, the canopies and the ceilings, which combine the geometric decoration typical of al-Andalus with Turkish floral ornamentation. The panelled doors are carved in the Italian style.
The service areas are arranged around a small courtyard which has a door leading to the main courtyard and an entrance opening direct from the street. The storehouses, the stables and the gardens are on the other side of the small square.
This palace was named after one of its former owners, the wealthy silk-weaver Mohamed Talar bin Abd Allah. Extensively refitted and extended during the 19th century, the palace reveals Italian influences in its columns, capitals, door and window frames, and the marble fountain in the centre of the courtyard. Dar Bin 'Abd Allah has been the home of the Museum of Popular Art and Tradition since 1978, holding some of Tunis’s extensive museum collections, including clothes, jewellery, bathroom and kitchen utensils, and weapons.
Deeds quoted by Revault, Palais et demeures de Tunis.
Binous, J., Maisons de la Medina de Tunis, 2001, pp.108–13.
Revault, Palais et demeures de Tunis (XVIIe et XIXe siecles), CNRS, Paris, 1971, p. 99.
Ifriqiya: Thirteen centuries of Art and Architecture in Tunisia, pp.84–6.
Jamila Binous "Dar Ibn ‘Abd Allah" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021. 2021. https://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;tn;Mon01;32;en
Prepared by: Jamila BinousJamila Binous
Née en 1939 à Tunis, a étudié l'histoire et la géographie à l'Université de Tunis et l'urbanisme à l'Université de Tours (France).
Mme Binous a exercé 30 ans durant autant que chercheur puis directeur à l'Association pour la Sauvegarde de la Médina de Tunis.
A été expert de l'Unesco (mission Sanaa « Ville Historique ») en 1982 ; expert national pour le projet UNDP de reconstruction des sites historiques méditerranéens ; membre du Comité International des Villes Historiques ; co-auteur de la Charte internationale des Villes Historiques (ICOMOS-UNESCO).
Consultante auprès de l'IMED pour l'étude sur le contexte législatif, la stratégie et la politique des musées en Tunisie 2002-2003.
Coordinatrice de l'exposition la femme et le seuil in Femme, culture et créativité en Tunisie – Credif - Tunis 2001.
Mme Binous a pris part à divers congrès internationaux, écrit plusieurs articles et ouvrages tels que :
- Tunis d'un monument à l'autre, Tunis, 1970
- Tunis, Tunis, 1985
- Les chefs d'œuvres de l'artisanat tunisien, Tunis 1982
- Les maisons de la Médina de Tunis, Dar Asraf édition Tunis 2002.
Translation by: David Ash
Translation copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez
Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.
True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.
MWNF Working Number: TN 32