Presentation of the center
The National Center of Calligraphy is a rare organization in the Arab and Islamic world. Its real concerns are Arabic calligraphy and Islamic decoration. That is why this center organizes frequently trainings and animations in order to preserve and develop our cultural heritage.
Thanks to its long and rich experience, the center has become a reference in this field and occupies a key position in our national culture with its great participation in the Arts of calligraphy and the goals for which it was created.
The Center has been under the administrative and financial cover of the National Institute of Heritage and the Ministry of Culture and Heritage Conservation. Its premises are located in the Zawiya of Sidi ‘Alî Shîha in Halfaouine, Bab Swika.
In addition to the free training sessions dedicated to the calligraphic arts in different types; kûfî, naskhî, thuluthî, ruq‘a, maghribî, dîwânî et nasta‘lîq, Islamic decoration…, varied activities were organized in the Center including exhibitions, workshops, competitions, lectures etc. The Center was not only active at the national level, but it also participated in many events at the international level.
The National Center of Calligraphy has become the destination of different foreign visitors (Africans, Europeans, and Asians living in Tunisia) in addition to, of course, the Tunisian visitors of all ages who come to the Center for trainings or to take part the Center’s activities. The diversity of the visitors enables the Center to enlarge its relationships with other foreign cultural organizations.
The Center has created its own library, which contains very rich and specialized content thanks to gifts and participations of different cultural and national organizations like universities. It also has its own artistic paintings made by teachers and their students, as well as its visitors.
In 2014, the Center took in charge the creation of a corpus of Islamic inscriptions in Tunisia, starting from inventory works of written inscriptions to introducing them into a database for the benefit of the public on the Center’s website to be finally published in different blogs.
The Center hopes to improve
the methodology of the Arts of calligraphy trainings, to republish its scientific magazine “Fannu al-dhâd” and sign partnerships with different organizations in order to organize different events and create new scientific projects.
The Center’s location: Zawiya of Sîdî Alî Shîha
Since the beginning of its activities in 1998, the National Center of Calligraphy has been located in the Zawiya of Sîdî Alî Shîha, which is in the quarters of al-Halfawine, Bab Souika in the city of Tunis. The Zawiya went under maintenance works in order to host the different activities and training sessions of the Center. This Zawiya is considered to be one of the largest ones in terms of space and architectural luxury. It was classified at the beginning of the XIXth century under the orders of Mohamed Nacer Bacha Bey on January 25, 1922.
Sîdî Abû Al-Hassan Alî Shîha al-Charîf was originally from al-Chebba and moved to the capital Tunis in al-Halfawine, where he got married in the beginning of the XXth century. He joined the Soufia and he created the large Zawiya under the orders of the minister Mustapha Khaznadar in 1268 Hijrî/ 1852 A.D. He died in 1271 Hijrî/ 1852 A.D leaving behind him this marvelous monument full of memories.
This monument has a rectangular form and includes a monumental entry leading to a hall containing two rooms, the doors of which open directly on a large patio. This patio is surrounded by different halls from all directions. A second hall in the western part, which is in front of the first hall, also contains two rooms and leads from its northern side to the central room that has one principal dome and other domes in the corners. The mausoleum of Sîdî Alî Shîha is located in this principal room, which leads through a small entry to the school's Mosque from the northern side.
This monument is considered to be an open museum as it contains various beautiful decorations through its special floor tiles, ceramic decoration of the walls, plaster, green bricks and the covering of the domes.
In addition to the different desks and equipments of the Center, the zawiya preserved its religious Sufi practices as the mausoleum of Sîdî Alî Shîha is still visited by people for the blessings.