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Report 1992: Tunisia - the North and the Roman Sites

By Eleanor from UK, Spring 2012

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Page 3 of 30: Beware the Last Day of a Carpet Exhibition with a Panoramic View

photo by MAW

The "Panoramic View"

Anyone wandering in Tunis Medina is likely to come across touts advertising the last day of a carpet exhibition in a building with a panoramic view. We got caught on our first afternoon while out in the Medina by the hotel porter who spun a convincing story and took us to the government emporium, which had the ‘final day’ of a display of Berber carpets. We did begin to wonder when the porter showed his card to the proprietor.

We were shown a carpet loom (not working) and shown the way to the roof top with a panoramic view. The view wasn’t that good but it was a pleasant tile lined area with benches, carpets and a cooling breeze. On the way down we were shown the ‘bed of the Bey who had four wives,’ which was a huge carved and painted wooden structure.

We were then taken into a showroom with huge piles of carpets stacked up. We were sat down and shown a selection of different carpets. There were woven Berber carpets made of wool and others made of camel hair. We were shown knotted carpets and the proprietor was at great pains to explain the significance of the number of knots. Then began a sales pitch about how important it was that carpets had the government seal of approval and they could post carpets all round the world. More and more carpets came out - mostly large squares and all colors and designs. By now the proprietor thought we had been softened up enough to begin to talk prices. We told him firmly (several times) we weren’t interested and didn’t want to buy. The message eventually got through and we were bundled out of the shop. The hotel porter wouldn’t earn much commission from us.

After that we were prepared and soon found that if approached about the ‘last day of a carpet exhibition’ we would ask if it had a panoramic view and explain we’d already done this. It was all taken in good part.

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