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Spotlight on Culture

People that call this area Home

African Countries

Immigrants from other areas of the world


People's Democratic Republic of Algeria

Also known as: Al-Jumhūriyyah al-Jazāʾiriyyah al-Dīmuqrāṭiyyah al-Shaʿbiyyah

Artistic Expressions

When the French governed their territory, the culture in the country was suppressed strongly in an attempt by the colonizers to substitute it with theirs. Since independence, the Algerian Government has realized the significance of this industry and has provided its full support, and has made an effort to strengthen the native Berber, Arabic, and Islamic culture by allocating money for centers dedicated to traditional arts, and by encouraging rug-making, pottery, embroidery, and jewelry-making. The National Institute of Music teaches music, dance, and folklore from the ancient Arabic and Moorish traditions. There is also a national film company, which produces most Algerian movies. Read more here.

Algerian crafts are unique and vibrant in color. An art and tradition, passed down through generations of Algerian artisans. This industry is a form of income and employment, but first and foremost- it is an expression of Algeria’s rich culture, their rituals and proverbs.

In 2006, it was estimated that approximately 200,000 Algerians were employed by the crafts industry in Algeria. The traditional crafts are an important income to the country, as they are exported all over the world.

Arts and Crafts: Pottery

The Algerian pottery industry is regarded as a cultural heritage and a cultural guide in the country, especially in a number of its inland and coastal cities. In the city of Jijel for exmple, the municipality Djimla is famous, like many cities in the country, for their excellent craftmanship of these objects.

Pottery is a continuously evolving art form in Algeria. Due to the successive Algerian civilizations, you can see the influence of the Berbers, of the Arabo- Muslim and oriental cultures, as well as noticeable Turkish nuances and "Hispano- Moorish“ characteristics. The Guelma, M‘sirda and Ait Khlili are regions renowned for the quality of their clay deposits, which are used in the making of the pottery.

Berber cultures in North Africa still make pottery for domestic use and display. The artisan women use very traditional methods and means to manufacture this pottery, both for their use and trade. The clay is collected in the mountain, then sieved and mixed with the leftovers of other pottery. They make hand made wheel-thrown ware, brightly decorated, glazed and fired in large kilns. Broken pots have turned into a business for dozens of families in the region, where people have been doing this type of art for generations.

The painted decorations on these, and their complex designs, are part of a wider female oriented visual culture, which also includes wall decorations, weaving and distinctive highly colorful female costumes and jewelry. This tradition is very distinct from the Islamic influences that dominate the urban centers, where men are usually the potters. A great example of this traditional pottery making can be found in Kabylie.

The following videos are in French- to see English subtitles, you'll need to watch the video on youtube, click the little gear and choose the language from the menu.

Pottery Types, from this page.

Pottery of the Sahara:

The least known of all pottery types is based south of Adrar, in the old Ksar of Tamentit, and is commonly referred to as "black earthenware.“ The best known exmples are ram-head shaped ashtrays crowned by a solar disc. From Béchar to BéniAbbès, and Timimoun to Touggourt you can find ancient pottery reflecting the architecture.

Pottery of the Kabylia:

It is defined by common traits, and whether originating in Mâatkas, Bourouh or Ath-Kheir, this type of Berber pottery uses the same symbolism. It combines simplicity, functionality, solidity, water-tightness, aesthetics and human values. Its forms and ornamentation draw from rural cultural symbols and feminine sensibility. The color red is prevalent.

The pottery of Bejaia:

The pottery in Bejaia and the cities around it is characterized by a wealth of shapes and themes as well as a tremendous creative force. The color red is used, but not as much. True to its environment, alternately mountainous and coastal and open to all civilizations such as those of the Phoenicians, Romans, and Turks, it shares a likeness to the pottery of the Great Kabylie. It combines strength, functionality and charm.

The pottery from Eastern Constantine:

Created from the major kaolin deposits in Guelma. In some locations, from Hammam Maskhoutine to Skikda, one can find very old pottery decorated with agrarian symbols and commonplace objects. Such pottery is marketed on a large scale.

The Pottery of Chenoua (Tipaza):

In this kind, the influence of the sea is pervasive. Roman and Phoenician artistic heritage also prevails in the region. However, the traditions seems to be fading away.

The pottery from the Aurès Mountains:

This pottery is formed in austere shapes and colors, reflecting the surrounding environment.

The pottery of the Némemchas:

This type is shaped from pink clay and decorated with brown drawings, and then left unvarnished. This art form was threatened by lyrical improvisation that distorted the original look of this aesthetic pottery.

The pottery of M’sirdas:

Made of high quality clay, with sober ornamentation and given a smooth profile.

Stay tuned for more information on Algeria's culture, its people and the arts in future posts. Our area is blessed to be called home by many people of many cultures, and they deserve to be acknowledged.


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