Address: 29 Tribunal Street
Dar El Jaziri was one of the residences of the Jaziri family, a wealthy family of landowners, between the 12th and 18th centuries, located on Tribunal Street. It is known for having hosted the second congress of the Neo-Destour party in 1937. Secret meetings were held in the grand yards of homes hidden from the occupation authorities.
Its history was the reason behind choosing it as a historical landmark devoted to poetry in 1992. The House of Poetry currently hosts meetings and competitions between poets, as well as a specialized library, which makes it the home of valuable cultural space.
The house has a very unique architectural structure. Its façade consists of a wooden sculpted door with a kadhel frame, surrounded by sandy stones. The house has two stories, the main courtyard with a well at its center and surrounded by a portico. The symmetry of the doors and windows, as well as the calm blue color in which their woods are painted, give a soothing and calming atmosphere to the courtyard.
In the halls, the beauty of the painted wooden ceilings is striking. The ceiling joists are adorned with Italian-style floral motifs, framing geometric elements of Moroccan-Andalusian origins.
But the most complex features are those that form the decoration of the square ceiling of the vault. Its center consists of a rectangular pattern, surrounded by flat strips with multiple flowers all over the surface.
GOOD TO KNOW
Literature in Tunisia covers two languages, Arabic and French, which still characterizes Tunisian culture today. Many modern writers live in Europe and the West, which means that more and more translations are in English. Here are some examples of well-known poets from Tunisia:
Samar Samir Mezghani *1988
Samar Samir Mezghani is one of the remarkable female talents that Tunisia has produced in recent times. She published her first book at the age of ten and is the youngest (2000) and most productive author (2002) in the Guinness Book of Records. Her stories for children have been translated into 34 languages. In 2018, she was the first woman in Tunisia to receive her doctorate and was nominated as one of the hundred most inspiring women (BBC). She has been ranked as one of the most influential and important female leaders in the Arab world. Her work aims to promote women in leadership positions, young people, art and culture. Website
Aboul-Qacem Echebbi *1909 †1934
The poet Aboul-Qacem Echebbi, or Al-Shabbi, is considered the cultural icon of Tunisia. The national anthem “Ala Khallidi” (written by Mustafa Sadik el-Rafi) was extended in 1987 by two more verses by Al-Shabbi and from then on bears the name “Humat al-hima”. He was familiar with both Arabic and Western literature.
He was interested in works such as those by Khalil Gibran that dealt with Arab nationalism and anti-colonialism. The poems “To the Tyrants of the World” and “The Will To Live” count as examples of protest poetry. Written at the beginning of the twentieth century during the period of French colonialism (1881-1956), they were taken up during the Arab Spring (2010/11) and used for rally calls to support the quest for freedom. Thematically he dealt with nature, love, revolution and nationalism.
Amina Said *1953
Amina Said is currently one of the leading Tunisian poets. She was born at the end of French colonial rule (1881-1956) as the daughter of a French mother and a Tunisian father. After studying literature in France at the Sorbonne University, she taught English literature at Tunisian universities. The mixture of two cultures shapes her sensitivity for places and identity which is reflected in her work. Since 1980, she has written fourteen volumes of poetry and two collections of modern retellings of Tunisian folktales. She regularly performs at international literature festivals.
Mustapha Tlili *1937 †2017
Mustapha Tlili achieved international fame as a novelist, diplomat and advisor to the UN in policy towards the Islamic world. He was one of the most important intellectuals from the Arab world. In 2008, he was awarded the Comar d’Or, the highest literary award in Tunisia, and a Knight of the French Order of Arts and Letters. He is best known for his work “Lion Mountain” (1988) which was long considered forbidden in Tunisia. It tells the story of a village from the end of the French protectorate to the era of independence.
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