Woman's tunic

Mahdia, Tunisia, late 20th century AD

In Mahdia, cotton tunics (qmajja tawaliy) are worn today as part of the marriage costume. The trousseau of a young bride would contain twenty or thirty of these dresses, seven of which are worn, one on top of the other, at the jelura ceremony on the third day of marriage.

The black silk embroidery of the central panel resembles Andalucian 'blackwork', probably introduced by refugees who settled in Tunisia in the early sixteenth century. The silk ribbons (hashiya) that decorate either side of the central plastron are woven by men on 'draw' looms. This style of tunic has changed little since the Roman period, and similar garments may be seen on mosaics from Carthage.

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More information


C. Spring and J. Hudson, Silk in Africa (London, The British Museum Press, 2002)

J. Mack (ed.), Africa: arts and cultures (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)


Length: 79.000 cm
Width: 86.000 cm

Museum number

AOA 1998.Af1.79



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