Traditional Dresses

        


Any fashion that is lucky enough to fall under the influence of three civilizations are certain to be an extraordinary blend of style and chic. Algeria sits at the crossroads of three worlds, African, Arab and Mediterranean, and Algerian fashion has long been influenced by the fact that its unique location has been a place of historic meetings and exchanges. 

Not surprisingly, Algerian designers have succeeded in combining the culture traditions with the influence of the environment of the country. These influences have found their way into the fashion industry and have foreshadowed several changes in the choice of color, design and pattern. 

Women's costume in particular, successfully combines flamboyance, utility and elegance. There is a strong emphasis on intricate decoration and colors. The use of colorful fabrics for clothing stands out against the predominant surrounding earth tones and the Algerian woman has kept her love for color and brightly colored patterns. Reds, yellows, greens and blues as well as many other color combinations are combined and finely embroidered with gold and silver threads. 

   

The Karakou is a typical traditional dress and incorporates a velvet jacket embroidered in gold and silver worn with the traditional saroual (Arab pants) and comes from Algiers, the capital of Algeria. 

The Blousa from Tlemcen, West Algeria is a full-length, straight-cut dress made entirely from lace and sequined chest. 

The Djeba Fergani is the traditional dress from Constantine in the eastern side of the country. This dress is always made with velvet and embroidered by gold and silver thread. The sleeves can be made of lace.

In the central region of Tizi-ouzou, the dress is mainly made from cotton and is completely embroidered at the neck and bodice as well as at the wrists. However, it is at wedding and other special occasions that these traditional dresses do justice to the affair. Distinctive jewelry is also worn. 

The fact that these forms of traditional dresses are still used is a tribute to its comfort and suitability for the climate. It also points to the pride that Algerians take in the tradition of their ancestors and their identity in the modern world. 

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Pottery

Pottery is a continuously evolving art form. Thanks to the contribution of successive Algerian civilizations, one can detect the influence of the Berbers, of the Arabo- Muslim and oriental cultures, as well as easily noticeable Turkish nuances and "Hispano- Moorish" characteristics Guelma, M'sirda and Ait Khlili are some of the Algerian regions renowned for the quality of their clay deposits which are non-existent in other parts of the country. 
Situated in eastern Algeria, the first region is famous for its kaolin deposits of white clay that is reserved for the production of fine porcelain. The second region, closer to the Moroccan border, and the third region of the Great Kabylie share honors for excellence. 

While pottery production methods are similar from one region to another, some variations do occur giving this art form myriad facets. Pottery making is practiced in many Algerian regions, more often than not in mountainous areas. 

* Pottery of the Sahara 

The least known of all pottery types is based south of Adrar, in the old Ksar of Tamentit, and is commonly referred to as "black earthenware." Best known are ram head shaped ashtrays crowned by a solar disc. From B?char to B?ni Abb?s, and Timimoun to Touggourt one can find ancient pottery reflecting the architecture of the regions mentioned. 

* Pottery of the Great Kabylie 

Of renown fame this pottery is defined by common traits and a certain likeness. Whether originating in M?atkas, Bourouh or Ath-Kheir, Berber pottery uses the same symbolism. It combines simplicity, functionality, solidity, water-tightness, aesthetics and human values. Its forms and ornamentation draw from rural cultural symbols and feminine sensibility. The color red is prevalent. 

* Pottery of the Small Kabylie 

This pottery is characterized by a wealth of shapes and themes as well as a tremendous creative force. The color red is used sparingly and judiciously. True to its environment, alternately mountainous and coastal and open to all civilizations such as those of the Phoenicians, Romans, and Turks, it shares a likeness to the pottery of the Great Kabylie. It combines strength, functionality and charm. 


* Pottery of Chenoua (Tipaza) 

The influence of the sea is pervasive. Roman and Phoenician artistic heritage also prevails in the region. However, the traditions seem to be fading away. ? Pottery from Eastern Constantine This pottery is created from the major kaolin deposits in Guelma. In some locations, from Hammam Maskhoutine to Skikda, one can find very old pottery decorated with agrarian symbols and commonplace objects. Such pottery is marketed on a large scale. 

* Pottery from the Aures Mountains 

This pottery is formed in austere shapes and colors reflecting the surrounding environment. 

* Pottery of the Nememchas 

This pottery is shaped from pinkish clay and is decorated with brownish drawings, and is left unvarnished. This art form was threatened by lyrical improvisation that distorted the original look of this aesthetic pottery. 

* Pottery of M'sirda 

This pottery is made of high quality clay with sober ornamentation and is given a smooth profile.

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Embroidery
Embroidery is influenced by various meaningful cultural contributions. Commonly referred to as “Tarz”, it is a highly refined urban art form.


Copperware

The emergence of copperware in Algeria dates back to the Middle Ages. It reflects a variety of successive styles and a major ottoman influence. 

The copperware trade which relies on copper sheets to produce or decorate art objects, has been perpetuated around casbahs and communities devoted to that art. Vases and containers of unrivaled beauty from Kirouana to Mahbess and Tassa to Taftal demonstrate an incredible range of ornamentation. 

Algiers, Tlemcen, Constantine, and to a lesser degree Ghardaia and Tindouf are the main sources of this art form. For example, in spite of the passing of time and the disappearance of the famous Zenkat

Ennahassia, Algiers is considered the birthplace of this art form, inherited from the Ottoman Empire. Among its specialties are Mahbess, Berreds (teapots), tebssi laichouets (couscous steamers with a conical lid), l'brik and tassa (used to perform one's ablutions), El Mordjen, El Mahrez (pestle and mortar) and S'nioua (copper or silver tray). 

The Ottomans, who lived in the city for many centuries, have influenced the art of Constantine known for its huge oriental-like decorative trays. Mahbess, Soukkhna, Cafatira, Kirouana, M'rach, and El Kettara are icons of this art form. They are produced by the skilled hands of brilliant artisans. They are, in fact, toiletry items used according to urban traditions. 

Like Constantine and Algiers, Tlemcen has seen age-old Andalusian art, once under oriental influences, develop according to Almohade traditions, which clearly confirms the considerable artistic talent of this multicultural region able to combine authenticity and originality in specialized applications such as bookends, chandeliers, large trays, or the now famous door knockers, vestiges of a rich art form.

Ghardaia and Tindouf are lesser-known centers of production of this art but they are deserving of a visit. As a matter of fact, the M'Zab valley, a highly dynamic cultural center, has found its niche. The production of coppersmiths is nonetheless limited to everyday utensils such as kettles and trays. 

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Jewelery

Inspired by a variety of sources, jewelry is the living testimony of an age-old creative force. From prehistory and antiquity to the Middle Ages, from the Roman-Byzantine era to the emergence of Islam, traditional jewelry has always expressed the very essence of those eras through harmonious symbolism Not so long ago Algiers, Tlemcen and Constantine were vibrant jewelry centers, if only because of the sheer number of stands and shops. Other regions are also known for the quality of their jewelry. 


*Kabyle jewelry (Beni Yenni) 

Ath Yennis are famous for their silver jewelry. The forms and colors used are specific to the region. The glazing technique was introduced around the 15th Century. One could proudly show off a renewed Ameslukh, Ikhelkhalen (anklet), Taharabt, Tbessaht, Letraks, Tigwedmatin, Adwir, Tbzimin, or Tabzimt. 

* Chaoui jewelry 

While of a different shape than Kabyle jewelry, "full" or "hollow" Chaoui jewelry has stood the test of time yet it has managed to preserve its authenticity. It is defined by the "Alaq Tchoutchara" (earring) that is sadly not made anymore, the Timcherreft (also an earring), the Korsa Bel Quota, a more recent creation, "Amquyas," the Abzim, whose close resemblance to the Kabyle fibula can surely be rooted in an obvious ethnic analogy, the Lamessak, a recent creation true to the Chaoui style, the Tinahissin, the Cherketh or Semsem, the khelkhal (ancient ankle bracelet that women from the region never take off), the Guerrar, the Skhab, or necklace, to be found throughout the Mahgreb region. 

* M'sila jewelry 

This tradition that very closely resembles Chaoui jewelry of a hybrid style, with Roman and Byzantine external influences, and is based on traditions pertaining to daily life and the environment. Besides the Akhelkhal, one can find Abzims and necklaces whose main characteristic is a close resemblance to Chaoui jewelry, although of a less refined style. 


* Tuareg jewelry 

This jewelry reflects a well-preserved and wisely maintained tradition, thanks mainly to the legendary Inadens. It attained mythical social status. The Tuareg society is truly devoted to artisans and noble trades, such as jewelry. Its symbolism echoes the perpetual quest of the Tuareg to control natural elements. Pendants, rings, pectorals, earrings, anklets, brass rings, and shell necklaces are all loyal representations of a bygone era. One should also mention the Tareout, Tasralt, Tineralt, Khomessa, Tareout N'azeref, Tiseguin, Ihebsans, and Asarou ouam Afer that combine utility and pleasure reminiscent of nearby Black Africa by their mystical aspects. Tuareg jewelry reflects a constant concern for pure aesthetics.

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Music


Algerian culture has been experiencing something of a revival, with traditional forms of dance and music such as Andalous, Chaabi, Bedoui, Chaoui, Kabyle, Diwane and Targui...becoming more widely taken up once again.

Local instruments such as the oud (a stringed lute-like instrument) and maqrunah (an Arabic wind instrument which can be fitted with a pouch, similar to a bag-pipe) provide unique regional sounds.

Music is also influenced by global trends. Rap-style Rai is a modern form of Algerian songs with a message and is popular among younger generations.

 

 

 

Saint Augustine, the Algerian

A Phoenician trading post established in the eleventh century BC, Hippone was a flourishing numide city, ally of Carthage, until the fall of this latter. In the third century BC, Gaïa, father of Massinissa, turned it into one of the capitals of his kingdom. After the defeat of Jugurtha, Numide Hippone was annexed to the Roman province of Africa Nova, and became the most prosperous of the pre-Roman Africa cities as well as the center of African Christianity. In the fifth century, it was invaded and ransacked by Genseric. The vandals settled in Hippone for a whole century and the Byzantines just as long. Archeological excavations revealed the residential district, from which originate most of the splendid mosaics displayed in the museum of the city, as well as the Christian district. The history of Hippone is closely connected to the life of Saint Augustine, the most famous of the Latin Church’s Fathers.

Recently, some tour operators set up a circuit called “On the footsteps of Saint Augustine” for foreigners interested in cultural and religious trips. In the program: the basilica and ruins of Hippone; the Punic and Roman center of the antique Calama in Guelma; the vestiges of the small amphitheatre; and Saint Augustine’s school Madaure.

 

 

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