La Gazelle - Page 93

Talent I Talent I . ‫براعــــة‬ envies wishlist ‫رغبـاتنـــا‬ S ituated in the north of the country, 120 kilometers away from Tunis, Senjane is a village of about 4800 inhabitants in the district of Bizerte. We reach it through Mateur or Menzel Borguiba which enables travelers to enjoy the magnificent landscapes all the way long. The particularly beautiful scenery all along Ichkeul Lake (natural reserve) road makes the trip worthwhile. The region offers a wild coast displaying Cap Serrat’s beach. Sea, forest and woods where the air is fresh and the views are diverse. The storks are one among the many birds and animals preserved in Lake Ichkeul. Breathtaking remains, the “Haounet” boutiques or sepulchral chambers carved in sandstone cliffs take us back to the Punic period or even earlier than that. The land is rich in clay that is colored white, red or brown. “This clay is perfect for making pottery objects and utensils”. Women potters are in many cases the only bread-winners in the region’s families. They outnumber 300 artisans who inherited the profession from their mothers throughout the centuries. The production of kitchen utensils and crockery (which dates back to between 4400 and 3800 B.C) has continued until the fifties. Today, the range of pottery offered has widened to involve ornaments and decoration items. Potters creativity was essentially witnessed in the decoration of plates and tableware, but now it presents a great variety of shapes that are either improvised or made according to the customers’ wishes. The pottery in Sejnane is modeled following rudimentary methods inherited from ancestors. Pottery is baked outdoors using wood and cow dung to fuel the fire. The decoration in red and brown is made out of natural items: red clay and crushed mastic leaves (Mediterranean shrub). The greatest problem is the marketing of these products. The self-made artisans are trying to adapt themselves to the demands of the market. The AFCR association is not only convinced of the beneficial nature of this handcraft activity for the entire region but also aware of the patrimonial value of this know-how. This is why it offers its support to these women workers by supervising and backing them up. The association has thus helped potters diversify their production while sensitizing them to preserve their traditional techniques. Products designed for use or ornamentation have been created: a tajine for baking bread has been converted into a tiny table, molded animals serve as lamp bases, Punic statuettes have been reinterpreted by artisans. The association also works on studying the selling prices to guarantee a fair revenue for the potters. I 95 I 56 ‫الغـزالــــة‬