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Mosaic in Tunisia

A mosaic is a type of art which uses little bits (think pebbles, shards of shattered china, pieces of glass, etc) which are used to create a picture or image. They have been frequently found in religious settings, such as cathedrals.

 

These intricate, detailed pieces of art have a special place in Tunisia, where mosaics have been a popular art form for literally thousands of years and where some of the world’s greatest mosaics may be found.

 

tribute to scholarship

 

History

A couple thousand years ago, mosaics were considered a mark of wealth and taste in Tunisia. Everyone that was anyone commissioned their own piece and placed them on display for all to see.

 

They comprised some floors upon which the wealthy walked, some walls they lived between and some windows through which they viewed the world.

 

They featured various scenes; sometimes, they would depict the urgency of a hunt, the wisdom-bestowing of a scholar, the actions of the ancient Roman gods and goddesses or the grandeur of a church. From the reverent to the bawdy, nearly every scenario of life found its way onto a mosaic piece.

 

hunting scene

 

The art form continues to be put to use in this day and age, as well. The modern art is sometimes fused with math calculations to create the best arrangement. The form has been somewhat co-opted by the future, however, as many of the pieces are simply reproduced by machines; some art fans note that the look of a machine-made piece lacks something found in many of the hand-made, intricate pieces such as Tunisian mosaics.

 

 

Locating Them Now

So if you want to view the real thing, right now, where do you go?

The Bardo Museum is one of the best places (in the world) to go view beautiful mosaics, because so many of the ancient pieces are housed there. The building itself is something of an art piece: it was once the Bardo Palace. Now, it is a go-to location for those interested in viewing mosaics.

 

gaming

 

The art is separated at the Bardo Museum in a couple of different ways. Some of them are housed in separate rooms based on where the mosaics were originally placed (such as the Tunisia Villa belonging to those who commissioned it).

They are also categorized by era, such as “Early Christian” featuring mosaics which celebrated the early presence of the Christian church in Tunisia and “Roman” featuring depictions of ancient Roman figures, folklore and deities.

 

Sea Goddess

 

 

 Dionysos (dressed in a blue tunic),

 

 

 Homer's Odyssey

 

pouring oil

 

If you’re looking for a more general location, the town of Sousse, with many of the ancient walls still standing, is an obvious choice.

Town is in many ways a blend of all the cultures which have existed there (Islam, Christianity, Roman, etc.).

 

 

Mosaic sarcophagi

 

Large floor mosaic. Sousse

 

 

Ceiling of a room; Sousse

 

The mosaics there reflect this blend, making it a perfect place to get a wide sampling of the art form’s offerings.

 

The Carthage Room displays a fine collection of sculptures from Carthage, in addition to a large well-preserved floor mosaic.

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