lambs, lambs and more lambs . . .
Eheh, this is not a typical thing about Kairouan but we visited the city the day before la Fête du Mouton so there were lambs everywhere. La Fête du Mouton is celebrated at the end of the Second Aid or Aid Kbir. During this day Muslims commemorate the sacrifice of Abraham (Abraham's lamb) and each family sacrifices a lamb. The sacrifice is done by the head of the family and after that the lamb is cooked and each part is eaten during different meals following traditional recipes. For la Fête du Mouton children are very important as they have to take care of the lamb until the sacrifice, which is a high responsibility. We saw very funny street scenes with children and lambs
We saw this ritual when we visited the Mausoleum of Sidi Abid El Ghariani. Is a ritual practiced in all arab countries and was closely related to the ritual dedicated to God and Godesses of fertility. It marked the passage from childhood into adulthood. It´s not mentioned in the Koran, but is a tradition of the prophet and has become obligatory. It´s performed when the boys are older between five and seven years old. A sharp knife is used to cut the foreskin and then the area is covered with fresh ashes, then cleaned again with special oils. It´s a family party, but we saw more females than males in the ritual.
As in other mosques around the world, there´s a specific dress code if you want to visit the Mosque; no sleeveless shirts for men and women, no mini skirts and the shorts must cover the knee. There are tunics for the visitors that need them. All of the girls of our group had to borrowed some of these clothes.
I visited Tunisia in the winter when it was quite chilly and saw that many of the local men wear large thick coats and blanket looking garments that are drapped over their shoulders in order to keep warm. Some wear traditional fez looking red hats whilst others wear more Muslim looking scoll caps.
Kairouan is famous through-out Tunisia for makhroud, a date-filled semolina cake soaked in honey. Be warned that it is very rich and even though they look small, they are very filling. You can find them to buy at Sengi, a patisserie located in the Medina and other shops and stalls nearby.
August Macke in Kairouan
August Macke was a German painter born in 1887. He was killed in 1914 in World War I, when he was 27. During his short artistic career he made several trips to Paris, where he came in contact with impressionism, and met several fauvist and cubist painters and exhibited with the Blaue Reiter group. In 1914 he traveled with Paul Klee to Tunisia, where he fine created watercolors using soft pastel tones and prismatic patterns. He painted Kairouan from several angles and perspectives: two of his most famous works are Kairouan I and kairouan III.
Paul Klee in Kairouan
Paul Klee (1879-1940), a Swiss-born artist, travelled to Tunisia in 1914 for 14 days with August Macke and Louis Moilliet. While there he felt "intoxicated" by its lights and colours - its when he returned home that he started to call himself an artist. He said: "Color has taken possession of me; no longer do I have to chase after it, I know that it has hold of me forever. That is the significance of this blessed moment. Color and I are one. I am a painter." Some of his paintings show scenes of Kairouan: a famous one is called "before the gates of Kairouan", another is "view of Kairouan"
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