Former Raqqada presidential residence, home to valuable collection of Islamic relics

The National Museum of Islamic Arts of Raqqada-Kairouan is established in a former presidential residency of late President Habib Bourguiba and turned into a cultural and educational venue on November 14, 1986.

 

The museum hosts most valuable collections of Islamic artefacts in Tunisia as it contains treasures of international renown exhibited in seven rooms distributed on the ground floor and first floor, in addition to a room for educational activities.

 

The collections are displayed in the Great Mosque Hall, which houses wooden elements from the prestigious Okba Ibn Nafaa Mosque.

 

The Ceramics and Glass Room houses artefacts from the Fatimid, Hafsid, and Ottoman eras that have been recovered from excavations at Raqqadah and Sabra al-Mansuriyah.

 

The mosaic room, where rare Islamic mosaics from Raqqada and Mahdia are displayed.

 

The lapidary inscriptions room, houses an Aglabid and Ottoman sundials, commemorative inscriptions, flat prismatic funerary stelae and columns from the cemetery of Kairouan.

 

The most important hall in the museum, according to curator Zouhaier Chehaibi, is the manuscript room as it contains a rich collection of Qur’anic leaves on parchment belonging to the library of the Great Mosque of Kairouan.The masterpiece is undoubtedly the famous blue Qur’an (second half 9th-mid-10th century Quranic manuscript written in Kufic calligraphy).

 

“It is a Quran written in Gold Water during the Zirid dynasty. The holy words were written on indigo-dyed leather, without dotting. It is the only copy in the world, most of which folios remain at the museum,» the curator pointed out.

 

The Bronzes Room (known as the Domed Hall) houses bronze artefacts and a series of lanterns dating back to the medieval period.

 

The Coin and Weight Room includes an important collection of coins dating back to the Aghlabid, Fatimid, Hafsid and Ottoman eras and tracing the economic history of Ifriqiya over more than six centuries.

 

The musuem welcomes visitors on a regular basis to see the invaluable collections, in addition to scholars and researchers who are keen to study the history of the artefacts.

 

The establishment organises education and cultural activities for the benefit of school children and students, to promote the heritage and history of the collection.

 

“The museum opened its doors at night last year during the National Museum Nights, to promote tourism and welcome more visitors who usually come to see the Blue Quran, the pride of the establishment,” Chehaibi indicated.

 

Source: Tap News Agency