Discover Algeria     Culture and Crafts
 Culture and Crafts

Algerian Monuments are part of the Unesco‘s World Heritage

  • UN ESCO classified sites

  • TIMGAD: Timgad is a military colony created by the III August legion in the year 100 by Emperor Trajan on the northern slopes of the Aurès Mountain range (province of Batna)

  • TIPAZA:Tipaza was a Punic counter and a strategic base for the Roman conquest of the Mauretanian kingdoms. It was listed among the 33 sites of the world’s endangered heritage by the 26th Session of the Committee of the World Heritage in Budapest on June 26, 2002

  • DJEMILA: Djemila, the antique Circul, is located at about 30 km from Sétif

  • Ta ssili N’Ajjer: Tassili N’Ajjer (provinces of Illizi and Tamnarasset) is the vastest museum of prehistoric rock art in the world. More than 15,000 drawings and engravings tell the stories of the climates, fauna and the human life in the Sahara from 6,000 BCE to the early centuries of our era

  • Kalâat Béni-Hammade:Kalâat Béni-Hammade in Bechara (province of M’sila), is a Moslem stronghold, founded in 1007 and was the first capital of the Hammadite emirs

  • The M’Zab Valley:The M’Zab Valley (province of Ghradaïa) whosek’sours (fortified villages) preserved the habitat created in the tenth century by the Ibadites

  • The Casbah:The legendary Islamic medina in the capital Algiers
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    Local Feasts: a symbol of cultural identity

     

  • Algeria is a nation with multiple facets. Its traditions are colorful and handed down from one generation to the next. Algeria‘s local festivals are organized all year round throughout the country. From the north to the south, each area has its own festival that it celebrates with splendor.

  • A symbol of popular traditions, the local festivals have become an occasion for organizing tourist stays to discover the marvelous sites of each one of its areas and to share the joy of the local populations with their legendary hospitality.

  • On the whole, no less than 256 local festivals are celebrated annually throughout the various areas of the country.

  • Tafsit of Tamanrasset:For three days, the people of the Hoggar gather in Tamanrasset to celebrate the arrival of spring in an atmosphere of festival rich in colours. Folk band processions are organized through the streets of the city to the great delight of the local people and tourists who come in large numbers to share the joys of this festival where the traditional craft industry occupies a privileged place… Fashion parades and beauty contests are organized on this occasion to elect “Miss Hoggar” and the best Tuareg of the region.
  • S‘biba of Djanet: Tassili N’Ajjer (provinces of Illizi and Tamnarasset) is the vastest museum of prehistoric rock art in the world. More than 15,000 drawings and engravings tell the stories of the climates, fauna and the human life in the Sahara from 6,000 BCE to the early centuries of our era

  • S’Boue of Timimoun:Like the Tassili, the Gourara area is known for its festivals in which the traditional songs of the “Ahellil” bands are omnipresent. Organized during the mawlid, the feast celebrating the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the S‘boue (week)is a festival that lasts seven days and seven nights. The seventh day, all the people of the K‘sour gather around the zaouia (religious school) of Sheikh El Hadj Belkacem for a large gathering where the standards of the brotherhoods are exhibited to the beat of the Ahellil songs. The celebration of this festival is also an opportunity for gathering the local population to settle any quarrels which may arise during the year and to seal new alliances.

  • Mawlid of Béni-Abbès:In the vicinity of Béchar, northwards, the sumptuous oasis of Béni-Abbès celebrates lavishly the birth of the Prophet. On the day of the Mawlid, the small square of the town is the center of a great deal of excitement with karkabou music and local dances. This religious festival is also an opportunity for the circumcision of the children and meetings between the families of the Saoura.

  • MawsimTaghit:The Saoura region organizes, in the last weekend of October, a great celebration, the “Mawssim Taghit”. This festival is dedicated to the date and offerings are made to the poorest sections of the population. The date harvest is an opportunity to gather all of the inhabitants of the Saoura in this age-old festival which dates back more than 19 centuries. The tradition is celebrated during three days to the beat of the bendir, the goumbri and songs chanted in chorus.

  • Ouaâdat Sidi Ahmed El Medjdoub:Celebrated in the second weekend of every October, Ouaâdat Sidi Ahmed El Medjdoub takes place in the commune of Asla (province of Nâama) in honor of the saint man Sidi Ahmed El Medjdoub who lived in the 15th century. The festival is organized by the Medjadba tribe to preserve and perpetuate local traditions and habits during which couscous and tea are served to all the guests. During the feast, fantasia exhibitions are performed, poetry contests and a major commercial event are organized, and miscellaneous goods are offered on sale so that the inhabitants supply themselves to face the harsh winter.
  • Ghardaïa Carpet Festival:In the M’Zab valley, the spring holidays provide an opportunity for craftsmen from all parts of the country to exhibit and sell their carpets. Enlivened by Karkabou bands which play percussions based rhythms and fire gunshots in the air, this festival is an exotic tourist attraction. Visits to the five towns of the region are organized for tourists in M’Zab valley. A legendary market for auction sales is held in one of the towns, Béni-Izguen. More than a traditional festival, this event is an artistic contest in which craftsmen compete in a convivial atmosphere.

  • M’Doukal Fantasia:During the first weekend of every month of May, a festival is held in the Aurès region. The palm groves and K‘sours of M’Doukal located ten kilometers from the famous ghoufi‘balconies’, provide a magnificent landscape for the fantasia shows during which horsemen dressed in traditional clothing exhibit their most beautiful horses. The spirit of the popular singer Aissa El Djermouni is reminisced everywhere during the three days of this festival. Popular poetry contests are also organized.

  • Daghmouli Festival:Around the mausoleum of MoulayAbderrahmane, the Hoggar tribes: Kel-Rela, Kel-Rebla, Kel-Abagar, Issabaten and Tedjiène - flock together to celebrate the daghmouli (dawn of holiness) in homage to the Hoggar Tuaregs (probably the Dlmenan tribe), who rebelled against the French in 1902. The ziara (visit of the mausoleum) lasts two days on specific dates, in May.

  • AthKhlili Pottery Festival:In the village of the Mâatkas, an area situated south of Tizi-Ouzou, potters and pottery has been holding center stage for nine years now. The clay ware trade in this locality is primarily feminine. AthKhlilli’s women are famous for the quality of their potteries whose decorations are inspired from the Berber symbolic system.

  • AthYenni Silver Jewel Festival:From July 27th to August 4th, a festival is organized at Ath Yenni to celebrate silver jewels. The jewels of this region are set with coral and decorated with yellow enamel (for the sun), green colours (for nature) and blue ones (for the sky). The village is perched high in the Djurdjura mountain range at an altitude of more than 900 meters. These Kabyle jewels have won international awards, particularly in Canada and the United States.

  • El Kala Coral festivalIn this easternmost town of the Algerian coast bordering with Tunisia, the coral festival gathers fishermen, craftsmen and other tradesmen in August. Algerian coral, which regenerates quickly after fishing, is exported to many countries. El Kala’s coral, as well as Bejaia’s, is famous for its quality and its rare rose tones. Heather wood is another wealth of this area; it is used to manufacture internationally famous pipes.

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    Algerian 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, Arab, Mediterranean and African, 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 colour, design and pattern.

  • Women‘s costume in particular, successfully combines flamboyance, utility and elegance. There is a strong emphasis on intricate decoration and colours. The use of colourful fabrics for clothing stands out against the predominant surrounding earth tones and the Algerian woman has kept her love for colour and brightly coloured patterns. Reds, yellows, greens and blues as well as many other colour 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 Oran, West Algeria is a fulllength, straight-cut dress made entirely from lace and sequined chest.

  • Chedda of Tlemcen:is a traditional caftan velvet and golden son, decorated with pearls, necklaces. It is considered in this region, as the most beautiful and the most expensive dress worn by the bride on her wedding day but also the other women at weddings.

  • The Djeba of Constantine: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.

  • Chaoui Dress:known in eastern Algeria as „L‘Haf Chaoui“, is a traditional dress made of black cloth embroidered with multicolored wool threads. This dress can be a one-piece or two-piece dress. Nowadays, Chaoui Dress is often worn with wide comfortable pants or with traditional pants known as „Serwal“.
  • Burnous:is an elegant traditional sleeveless and hooded coat worn made of sheep, goat, or camel hair and worn by men and women at special ceremonies, including weddings, when it is used at the start of the wedding procession to cover the bride as she leaves her parents‘ house for her new life in a separate home. Burnous is embroidered and each region of the country offers its own style. There is also a Less refined and heavier type of Burnous used in mountainous areas to protect against the elements, which can be particularly harsh in wintertime. This typical and traditional garment is also emblematic of local traditions in Algeria. It can be black in western Algeria, brown in the steppe and high plateaus region, Djelfa for instance, and white in the mountains of Kabylia, in north central Algeria.
  • El Hayek, the Algerian Veil,is emblematic of Algeria‘s traditional dress heritage. Typically, Algerian and closely connected to daily life in urban areas, the veil is a traditionally dress worn by women and a symbol of modesty. Algerian traditional Hayek comes mostly in white but some regions of the country offer variants in other colors as well. The typical „Hayek“ is a large rectangular piece of white cloth that women use to cover their body and head, holding it around the waist with a belt and over the shoulders using fibula or any type of decorative pins or brooches.
  • Usually of white color in central and western Algeria, a hayek is typically black in the Constantine region. According to tradition, women started wearing black veils as a way of mourning the death of a beloved Dey or governor. The name for veil can also vary from one region to the next, with „hayek“ being typical of central Algeria. In the Constantine region and most of north eastern Algeria, a veil is known as „M‘laya“.
  • Veils come in different styles of embroidery and offerings range from plain linen, to fine wool or silk. They are worn to preserve a woman‘s modesty but also to protect her from the harsh sun typical of that region of the world. While veils are mostly intended to cover a woman‘s body, they also help her hide any precious jewelry she may be wearing under it and protect her from unwanted attention.
  • In the traditional popular narrative, the veil was always seen as the great equalizer and a symbol of unity insofar as it helped blur regional and social differences between people.
  • 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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    Algeria’s performing arts

  • Music: In Algeria, „Classical music“ always refers to Andalus or Arab-Andalus Music and its various declinations or styles, which include the „Gharnati“ (meaning from Granada) and „Hawzi“ styles from Tlemcen, the Algiers Cordoba-inspired style „San‘aa“ (meaning trade), and the Constantine „Malouf“ style reflecting an Ottoman influence translating into the use of „Maqamat“ or modes and „Bashraf“ and „Samai“ Turkish forms.

  • Andalus music is extremely popular and is a source of great inspiration for budding artists from various regions of the country. According to tradition, Andalus Music was designed to be played based on a musical system including 24 noubas, which determined the forms, genres and modes in use nowadays and are composed based on varying poetic forms. The 24-nouba system was intended to reflect moods prevailing at each different hour of a day. For instance, „Sika“ nouba was played in early afternoon, „Ramal“ nouba was played by sunset, „Raml-al-Maya“ was played in early evening, whereas „Aaraq“, „Zidane“ and „‘Sin“ noubas were to be played before midnight, „Mjenba“ nouba at midnight, etc.

  • Popular styles of music, on the other hand, take on different forms, depending on the region of the country: „Chaabi“ in Algiers, „Raï“ in western Algeria, Berber music in the mountains of Kabylia, „Chaoui“, also a type of Berber music, in south-eastern and eastern regions of Algeria, „Gnawa“, „Tynde“ and „Ahallil“ styles in the Deep South of the country, and Touareg style. Both Raï and Berber styles of music have gained international notoriety.

  • Algerian literature expressed in the Arabic language equally varied and popular, thanks to such prize-winning authors, poets or other great scholars of the Arabic language and culture as Emir Abdelkader (1808-1883) himself, Malek Bennabi (1905-1973), Moufdi Zakaria (1908-1977), Tahar Ouettar (1936-2010), Abdelhamid Benhadouga, Ouassini Laaradj, Ahlam Mosteghanemi, and many others.

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    Theater

  • Theater thrived before and after the country‘s independence, thanks to artists and playwrights such as Rachid Ksentini, Mahieddine Bachtarzi, Mustapha Kateb, Rouiched, Athmane Ariouet, Hadj Abderrahmane (famously known for his role as „Police Inspector Tahar“ and Yahya Benmabrouk, his sidekick, aka „L‘Apprenti“ or the apprentice. Algerian theater gained further experience and notoriety with major contributions from respected artists and writers such as Ould Abderrahmane Kaki, Abdelkader Alloula, Slimane Benaissa, and Ziani Cherif Ayad, who were known for their focus on history, identity and activism in support of social issues.

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    Algerian Cinema

  • Algerian Cinema was born during the War for Independence. Since then, numerous directors have produced movies that have been rewarded and celebrated as work of art throughout the world.

  • Algerian Cinema gained increasing refinement and notoriety through exposure at various cultural events and cinema festivals, such as the Arab Film International Festival which the city of Oran hosts every year. Algerian directors and moviemakers have been involved in numerous award-winning international joint productions. A number of such movies are among the following sampling of successful movies listed hereafter:

  • Chronique des années de braise by Mohamed Lakhdar Hamina (Golden Palm, Cannes film festival, 1975);
  • Tahiya ya Didou (Alger insolite) by Mohamed Zinet;

  • The Battle of Algiers by Gillo Pontecorvo (Golden Lion, Mostra de Venice, 1966; Prize at Cannes film festival; Oscars-nominated);

  • L‘Opium et le Bâton by Ahmed Rachedi;

  • Patrouille à l‘Est by Amar Laskri;

  • Inspector Tahar on Vacation by Moussa Haddad;

  • Carnaval fi Dashra by Mohamed Oukassi;

  • Hors-la-loi by Rachid Bouchareb (Cannes Festival Selection);

  • Le Puits (The well) by Lotfi Bouchouchi (Best Foreign Language Movie selection at 89th Oscars).

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    Museums in Algeria

  • Algiers:National Museum of Antiquities (Classical and Muslim antiquities; Muslim art), National Museum of Fine Arts (Modern art, paintings, drawings, sculptures, engravings), Mujahidin Museum (Collections referring to the National Liberation War), Bardo National Museum (Ethnography, prehistory, African collections), Children’s Museum (Works by children), Museum of Traditional Arts (Handicrafts collections; traditional art), Army Museum (Collections referring to the National War of Liberation).

  • Tipaza:Tipaza Museum (Antique sculpture and archeology), Cherchell – Bocquet Park: Open Air Museum and New Museum (Antique mics);
  • Timgad:Timgad Museum (Classic antiquities, sculptures, mosaics, and collections);
  • Annaba, Hippone Road:Hippone Museum (Classic antiquities, sculptures);
  • Tebessa:Minerva Temple Museum;
  • Djemila:Djemila Museum (Sculptures, classic mosaics);
  • Setif:Setif Museum (Classic antiquities, ethnography)
  • Cherchell:Cherchell Museum (Archeology, Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities)
  • Constantine:Constantine Museum, Koudiat Plateau (Prehistory, antiquities, paintings)
  • Tazoult(formerly Lambese): Tazoult Museum (Classic antiquities)
  • Oran:National Zabana Museum (Prehistory, Antiquities, Modern Art, Ethnography, Natural Sciences)
  • Guelma:Guelma Theater Museum (Sculptures and Numismatics)
  • Ouargla:Ouargla Saharan Museum (Prehistory, Ethnography, Arts/Crafts)
  • Tlemcen:Tlemcen Museum (Antiquities, Muslim Arts)
  • Beni-Abbès:Beni-Abbès Scientific Research Center (Botanical and Zoological Park)
  • El-Oued:El-Oued Museum (Prehistory, Ethnography and Craft Work)
  • Bejaia:Bejaia Museum (Archeology, Natural Sciences)
  • Ghardaïa:Ghardaïa Folk Museum (Art Craft, Folk Collections)
  • Algiers-Hamma:Test Garden (Flora), Zoological Park (Fauna)
  • Beni-Saf:botanical and Zoological Park (Flora and Fauna)
  • Bou Ismail:Aquarium (Marine Wildlife)
  • BouSaada:BoussaâdaEcomuseum
  • Djanet:Prehistory and History Museum

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    Algier s Opera Ho use

  • Algiers Opera House is a cultural pole by excellence. It was inaugurated on July 2016 by the President of the Republic, H.E.Mr. Abdelaziz Bouteflika. It is named after late Boualem Bessaih, former diplomat, a Senior Minister and President’s Adviser and personal representative. Under an impressive cube-like edifice of 35,000 square meter, the Opera gathers the Symphonic Orchestra, the National Ballet and the Andalusia Music Group. It has a main hall capacity of 1,400 seats.

  • The amazing Opera design embraces some Algeria’s heritage. It is a great combination of traditional style and contemporary architecture. The Opera headquarter is located in the district of Ouled Fayet in Algiers.

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    INSTITUTIONALIZED CULTURAL FESTIVALS

    Festival Culturel International de Timgad, Timgad, July
    Festival International du Cinéma, International de Alger, Algiers, November
    Festival International des danses populaires, Sidi Belabbes, July
    Festival Culturel Arabo-Africain des danses folkloriques, Tizi Ouzou, July-August
    Festival Culturel International de musique andalouse « Malouf », Skikda, July
    Festival Culturel International de la bande dessinée, Tipaza, November
    Festival Culturel International de « musique Gnaoul », Tipaza, November
    Festival Culturel International de Djemila, Sétif, July
    Festival Culturel International de musique andalouse, Algiers, December
    Festival Culturel Arabe du Cinéma, Oran, July
    Festival Culturel Maghrébin de musique andalouse, Tipaza, December
    Festival Culturel International de Musique de Jazz, Constantine, April
    Festival Culturel International de la littérature et du livre de la jeunesse, Algiers, June
    Festival Culturel International de la Calligraphie Arabe, Algiers, every year
    Festival Culturel International de la Miniature et des Arts Décoratifs, Algiers, every year
    Festival Culturel International de l’Art Pictural Contemporain, Algiers, every year

     

    The evolution of literary and artistic expression

  • Following Independence, new cultural elite surfaced in various fields as Algeria asserted its cultural and creative vibrancy. Its movies, literature and music, to name only these fundamental fields of activity gained a national and at times international audience. Some works even created quite a stir: Mohamed Lakdhar-Hamina’s “Chronicle of the Years of Embers” (Chronique des années de braises) received the Golden Palm for best film at the Cannes film festival in 1975 while Mohammed Dib and Assia Djebar joined the ranks of potential Nobel-prize winners.

  • There is something about the air and the sky in Algeria that has always inspired artist from prehistoric to contemporary times. As early as 10,000 years ago, it inspired the rock paintings of the Hoggar Mountains in the far south. These were a blend of Berber and Black African art. The stylized representations of people and animals depicted by these paintings are reminiscent of modern art in a breathtaking time warp.

  • In the 19th and early 20th centuries a new world and a different civilization was discovered, offering a new vision. Foreigners, who visited Algeria, have always been fascinated by it. It aroused enthusiasm and envy and it inspired conquests and occupations.

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    Algeria‘s literature

  • Algeria‘s literary scene is known for its richness, vibrancy, and linguistic variety, as the market offers publications in Arabic, French, and Amazigh. Algerian literature has shone through the works of world-renowned authors and distinguished writers such as Kateb Yacine (1929-1989), Mouloud Feraoun (1913-1962), Mouloud Mammeri (1917-1989), Mohammed Dib (1920-2003), Assia Djebbar (1936-2015), Rachid Mimouni (1945-1995), Tahar Djaout (1954-1993), Rachid Boudjedra, and many others, who penned their works in the French language.

  • Algerian literature expressed in the Arabic language equally varied and popular, thanks to such prize-winning authors, poets or other great scholars of the Arabic language and culture as Emir Abdelkader (1808-1883) himself, Malek Bennabi (1905-1973), Moufdi Zakaria (1908-1977), Tahar Ouettar (1936-2010), Abdelhamid Benhadouga, Ouassini Laaradj, Ahlam Mosteghanemi, and many others.

  • Amazigh literature is fast growing and gaining in popularity, thanks to such classics as the works of Mohand M‘Hand and other more contemporary writers.

  • Popular poetry is also a source of great interest and wide expansion, given the variety of styles it offers, including Kabyle poetry, Southern Algeria poetry known as „Melhoon“, and poetry styles typical of arid and high-plateaus areas. Popular poetry is also the source of popular styles of music, including world-renowned Raï music.

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    Algeria : A Source of Inspira tio n for Pai nters

  • In the quest of the Orient and its mysteries, its sun and particular light, artists have visited every corner of the Near East or of North Africa.

  • There is something about the air and the sky in Algeria that has always inspired artists from prehistoric to contemporary times. As early as 10,000 years ago it inspired the rock paintings of the Hoggar Mountains in the far south. These were a blend of Berber and Black African art. The stylized representations of people and animals depicted by these paintings are reminiscent of modern art in a breathtaking time warp.

  • In the 19th and early 20th centuries a new world and a different civilization was discovered offering a new vision. Foreigners who visited Algeria have always been fascinated by it. It aroused enthusiasm and envy and it inspired conquests and occupations. But many peaceful and sincere artists also came armed only with pencils and brushes. Several hundred painters from every corner of the globe drew from this endless source of inspiration to immortalize the „tremendous diversity of sites and ambiance.“

  • French artists-reporters of the „conquest“ era, from Horace Vemet to Raffet, and more inquisitive and neutral ones from Switzerland, Germany and Great Britain discovered a stupendous country. Through their studies, water paintings, engravings and paintings of a scientific or documentary nature, William Wyld, Adolph Otth and Weidenmann revealed to the world the Algerian shores and the Sahel.

  • Orientalist paintings in Algeria provide another remarkable illustration of the universality of its art. European techniques inspired by Algerian scenery have brought forth a form of art specific to our country. It was Matisse who said: „Revelation came to me from the Orient“ by which he meant Algeria. The stunning revelation of Delacroix‘s „Women of Algiers“ (Femmes d‘Alger) in 1832 precedes masters such as Chasseriau, Fromentin and Chataud who would later make Algeria a preferred land for painters. In the 1860‘s some of them undertook a study of the south and the nomads. Others, seeking authenticity and freedom, would commit fully, such as Dinet who converted to Islam, or Verschafelt who married an Islamic woman. Both of them settled in Bousaada and painted everyday Algerian life. Bousaada and Biskra were true oases, which welcomed French, British and American orientalist painters such as Bridgeman, Thericat, Muller and Lord Weeks-Edvin. In their works one discovers the enchanting natural light, the space, the fantasy, the dances and bright colors of both the Mediterranean shores and the Ksours bordering the desert immensity.

  • Many artists have used their poetic sensibility to pay tribute to the capital city of El Djezair and the Algerian landscape. For example, Eugene Fromentin described and painted „the great mystery and the faded charm“ of this natural environment and its architectural treasures. Also we should not forget the eerie enchantment created by the Casbah and the Algerian port that inspired so many artists: Jules Magy and his seascape on exhibition in the Museum of Fine Arts of Algiers; Pouilliard, Caillet and the American Bridgeman who, among others, painted several canvases representing this Mediterranean city, then referred to as the „well protected.“ Italian artists were seduced by the mild climate of Tlemcen, Annaba and Bejaia, while English artists preferred Algiers.

  • From 1907, the „Villa Adeltif,“ an Algerian „Medici“ villa, played host to French artists, year after year, until 1960. It was visited by Cauvy, Carre, Bouviolle, De Buzon, Bouchaud, and Hambourg. After the Second World War European painters still found Algeria fascinating, but orientalist painting tinged with the exotic overtones of former years went out of fashion. Emerging artistic trends were reflected in a very different manner, as brilliantly demonstrated by Dubuffet, a pioneer of crude art, in his painting entitled „Peindre en Arabe.“

  • With artists such as Abdelhalim HEMCHEB, Azouaou MAMMERI, and later Mohamed BOUZID, Bachir YELLES and Ali KHODJA, Algerian paintings of occidental inspiration were quite remarkable, well before Independence. Moreover, thanks to the Racims, Algerian miniature and illuminated art forms developed at an accelerating rate. One must point out the role played by Mohamed Racim in preserving Algerian authentic values. His school suddenly expanded with artists such as Mohamed Temmam, Mohamed Ranem, and Hamminouna as well as new generations of artists who drew inspiration and techniques from this art form.

  • The figurative trend also owes a debt to older artists. Each in their own way, Racim and Dinet have greatly influenced this artistic movement that reflected Algerian traditions, social values and daily life. Baya and Benaboura are representatives of this so-called „naive“ painting, which mirrors the Algerian spirit. Zmirli, Samson, Abdoun and many others also adopted this expression of stunning freshness and simplicity.
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    ARTS AND CRAFTS

  • 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.

  • 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 Béchar to BéniAbbès, and Timimoun to Touggourt one can find ancient pottery reflecting the architecture of the regions mentioned.

  • Pottery of the Kabylia:is defined by common traits and a certain likeness. Whether originating in Mâatkas, 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 colour red is prevalent.

  • The pottery of Bejaia: and the cities arround is characterized by a wealth of shapes and themes as well as a tremendous creative force. The colour 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.

  • The pottery from Eastern Constantine, 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.

  • In the 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.

  • The pottery from the Aurès Mountains:is formed in austere shapes and colours reflecting the surrounding environment.

  • The pottery of the Némemchas: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.

  • The pottery of M’sirda:s made of high quality clay with sober ornamentation and is given a smooth profile.

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    Leatherwork

  • Leatherwork: is well established in Algerian regions where husbandry is done on a large scale. These arts and crafts are geared towards the production of footwear, belts, horse and camel saddles, containers, pillowcases, sword scabbards, and flywhisks.

  • Leatherwork of Tlemcen:This craft owes a great deal to the local embroidery and sewing heritage. Greatly influenced by Andalusian culture it remains a stronghold of Hispano-Moorish art.

  • The leatherwork of Tlemcen is famous for its motifs and forms used in boots, saddles, satchels, wallets and other manual items used in everyday life.

  • Leatherwork of the Deep South – Tamanrasset:In this region knowhow is organic, mystical and a reflection of the vast surrounding spaces. Inspiration is always glimmering and the product is of very high quality. Whether an Arreg (travel bag), El-sedira (saddlebag) or Tarallabt (wallet) perfection prevails.

  • Leatherwork of Médéa:Synonymous with expertise and refinement, Médéa was once famous for its leather moccasins, harnesses, saddles and belts. Wallets, cigarette holders, and bags embroidered with gold and silver thread were eventually added.

  • Artisans are desperately trying to uphold traditions but trade modernization based on foreign models prevents them from returning to earlier designs.

  • Unequalled reference to the past, whether remote or recent. As told by fabrics combining daintiness, imagination and creativity. Embroidery is a wonderful illustration of know-how influenced by various meaningful cultural contributions. Commonly referred to as „Tarz,“ it is a highly refined urban art form.

  • The Embroidery of Algiers:There are several designations for a single, famous creation, a masterpiece called Tarz, Truz, Triz, „Guerguaf“, or „N‘djoum-Kentid“, meaning „quest for elegance.“ „B‘niqa“, „Caftans“, Qats“, and „Karakous“ are the jewels of ancient El Djazair haute couture. Skillful hands of renowned dexterity sewed wonderful ornamental scrolls on fabrics that have transited from „el gargaf“ to the „fetla“, stopping at „El Kentir“ where the embroiderer or embroideress let his or her imagination run wild.

  • Celebrations are indicative of current trends and fashions. Ottoman Algiers witnessed the success of Badrun, Qwiyat, B‘diya and other B‘niqa and El Abrouk, associated with the constant desire to please and be admired with loving eyes.

  • Embroidery of Miliana:The embroidery style of Miliana is a revised version of that of Algiersand highlights the refined and sophisticated urban touch called „Hadras“. From Blida to Medea, by way of Kolea, the Turkish, Arab and Andalusian influence is visible everywhere. The results are works in total harmony with the heritage of ancient El Djazair.

  • Embroidery of Annaba:These are generally based on floral motifs and were inspired by the works of our Tunisian neighbors, hence their designation as the embroidery „of Nabeul.“

  • Southern Embroidery:(Touggourt and M‘nea) Owing to Touggourt‘s proximity to the M‘Zab valley, the first is reminiscent of embroidery commonly produced in the city of Ghardaia, while M‘nea, known for its rugs, distinguishes itself through many innovations in style, with subtle nuances in shape and color. However, where embroidery in these two cities is concerned the period in which they were produced is of great significance.

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    Copperware

  • The emergence of copperware in Algeria dates back to the Middle Ages. It reflects a variety of successive styles and a major Turkish 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 laachouets (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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    Jewellery

  • Inspired by a variety of sources, jewellery 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 jewellery has always expressed the very essence of those eras through harmonious symbolism Not so long ago Algiers, Tlemcen and Constantine were vibrant jewellery centers, if only because of the sheer number of stands and shops. Other regions are also known for the quality of their jewellery.

  • Kabyle jewelry (BéniYenni):AthYennis are famous for their silver jewellery. The forms and coloursused 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“ Chaouijewelry has stood the test of time yet it has managed to preserve its authenticity. It is defined by the „AlaqTchoutchara“ (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 Chaouijewelry 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 Chaouijewelry, although of a less refined style.

  • Tuareg jewelry:This jewellery 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, TareoutN‘azeref, Tiseguin, Ihebsans, and AsarououamAfer that combine utility and pleasure reminiscent of nearby Black Africa by their mystical aspects. Tuaregjewelry reflects a constant concern for pure aesthetics.

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    Rug and weavings

  • After surviving unscathed for centuries, traditional Algerian rug-making has now blossomed to its full vibrancy. For this trade, time has stood still. Authentic shapes and styles have been preserved even if some rugs show slight hints of modern influences. The range of rugs available clearly demonstrates the Algerian cultural melting pot. Rugs can be of Berber, Maghrebian, Arabo- Muslim, African, or even Oriental inspiration.

  • Rugs of Eastern Algeria:The shapes of rugs of Haracta (Aurès) and Némemcha- Babar (Tébessa-Khenchela) are so similar that distinguishing them is no easy task. Even more so the latter, with its Berber-Oriental symbolic ornamentation, is reminiscent of the legendary Haracti rugs, rooted in everyday life, after the near disappearance of all Chaoui influence.

  • Rugs of Kabylie:Maâdid (M‘sila – BordjBouArréridj) and Guergour (Sétif- Béjaïa) rugs, with their Berber symbols, show the same Oriental influences, however slight, reflecting the various civilizations that have blossomed in the region.

  • The most magnificent weavings are undeniably the rugs of Ain Hichem (Tizi-Ouzou), which combine delicateness and refinement, swathed in folk and rural imagery.

  • Weavings of Oran region:Created with soft and varied tones and gorgeous nuances, these rugs show slight Berber and Hispano-Moorish influences. The rugs of Kalaâ des BéniRached are the most famous of all Oranie. They are an authentic, high quality product, and probably the best product of its genre in the entire Maghreb region.

  • Rugs of Djebel Amour:Made with stunning ingenuity in terms of the complexity of weaving, they are one of the most magnificent specimens in Algeria, famous for their originality and motifs of Berber inspiration. Extremely sober in style, they are defined by a harmonious balance seldom.

  • Southern weavings:OuedSouf (El Oued –Guemmar) rugs are characterized by Ottoman influences and borrow from Némemchi rugs. Those of Béni-Isguen (Ghardaïa) are worldrenowned thanks in part to very effective marketing. Doukkali (Adrar) weavings and those of Timimoun, date back to 1270 of the Hijra and still use original designs.
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