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Type: Clothing - Garment
Object Name: Shawl
Local Name: bakhnug
Place Made: Africa: North Africa, Tunisia, Gabès governorate, Matmata
People: Berber
Period: Late 19th to early 20th century
Date: 1870 - 1930
Dimensions: L 190 cm x W 100 cm
Materials: Wool; cotton
Techniques: Plain woven; supplementary weft; fringed
ID Number: T90.0265b
Credit: Gift of Dr. Michael Pflug

In Matmata (southeast Tunisia), women’s shawls were dyed in red, black and blue. The colours corresponded to age: white was for very young girls, red for young women, and black or blue for older women. Historically, natural dyes were used to make these types of garments. Red was obtained either with madder (both cultivated and wild) or with imported cochineal. Indigo, the natural dye from which dark blue is obtained, was cultivated in Tunisia until the end of the 19th century, and later imported. By the 20th century, chemical dyes had become widely available. Both inexpensive and less time-consuming, these new dyes were embraced by weavers in Tunisia, as they were throughout the weaving world.