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Artisan Stories: Jacquard Weavers, Tunisia

Jacquard Weavers, Tunisia


Our jacquard-woven textiles are the result of a meeting of cultures. They are designed in Sweden by the House of Rym studio and woven by a small family-run business in Tunisia. The throws are based on cotton wraps called 'fouta' which are traditionally worn by men and women at public bath houses.

Tunisia is the northernmost country in Africa, bordered by Algeria, Libya and the Mediterranean Sea. In ancient times, Tunisia was primarily inhabited by Berbers but control has changed hands many times through invasion and conflict. Tunisia gained independence from France in 1956 and saw uprisings in 2011 as part of the Arab Spring.

Cotton


The cotton plant is a shrub native to tropical and subtropical areas of the world, particularly the Americas, Africa and India. Cotton fibre comes from the plant's fluffy seedheads, called 'bolls'. Cotton has been prized for centuries because it can be dyed vibrant colours and woven into fabric that is light, breathable, soft.

How is it made?


These cushions and throws are woven on a Jacquard loom, which was invented in 1804 to simplify the production of fabrics with complex patterns. The loom is controlled by punched cards that are changed to dictate different designs. Jacquard weaving technology actually contributed to the development of early computers and punched cards remained in use in computing until the mid-1980s.

How your purchase improves lives


Recent political upheaval and terrorist attacks have devastated Tunisia's once-thriving tourism industry. The economy is in decline and unemployment is rising steeply. By buying textiles made by small family-run businesses, like this weaving workshop, we can support growth during a difficult time and help breathe new life into the traditional textile industry.

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Image credits: Hilda Grahnat for House of Rym