The Musee de Guellala (Guellala Museum) in Djerba is dedicated to presenting the rich culture and history of the island’s inhabitants. The Djerbian people are culturally distinct from other national Tunisians and preserve many of their unique traditions and cultures. Natural sized mannequins and stage sets are used in this museum to depict scenes from traditional ceremonies, island industries and activities of daily living in Djerba.
The Guellala Museum attracts thousands of international tourists, national tourists and local visitors each year to learn about Djerba’s history and culture. The owner of the museum had a vision to find creative ways in further promoting Djerba’s culture and arts to the world. In the past, visitors to the museum were able to view a traditional art gallery which existed as an extension of the museum to promote Djerbian art. Since then, the museum owner opened a mosaic shop located at the end of the museum tour.
An Insider Look at the Mosaic Shop
The mosaic shop features a spectacular gallery of mosaics that are available for sale. The vast selections of mosaics range from regular sizes to micro-mosaic, from mono-coloured to multi-coloured, and from miniature sizes to portrait sizes.
A typical 5 inch by 5-inch coloured mosaic would take on average 3 hours to produce. Larger mosaics and micro-mosaics would obviously take even longer production time.
Asia, the acting manager of this mosaic shop has extensive knowledge in mosaic-making can describe the entire process required to make each art piece in the mosaic gallery. Asia once worked in a mosaic workshop in Djerba until a work-related accident caused her to relocate to another mosaic workshop in El Jem. The rocks used in the mosaic making process in El Jem are softer than the rocks used in Djerba, thus the working conditions are more favourable toward her injury. Later, she once again moved back to Djerba to manage the mosaic shop in the Guellala Musuem. Although she no longer creates mosaics today, she continues to share her love and extensive knowledge of mosaics with the many visitors who come to visit the Guellala Museum.
Preserving the Art of Mosaic Making
When Asia was asked whether she thinks this traditional art of mosaic making would become a lost art in the future, she responded with a tone of confidence and optimism, “Mosaics used to be an insignificant art in the past in Tunisia and the Arab world, but it has since developed into an important industry for Tunisia. In fact, mosaics had become widely popular in France as home and business decorations.”