The areas devoted to North Africa and the Near East are located at the junction of the areas devoted to Asia and Africa. A special place is reserved for textile arts. Several displays present men’s and women’s traditional costumes that are regularly renewed. Dresses, overcoats, waistcoats and caps, sumptuously embroidered, reveal to the visitor the wealth and astonishing variety of oriental clothing.
At the beginning of the tour, a small display case is dedicated to face-veils, a piece of women’s clothing with a history dating back a thousand years, some of which constitute true ornaments. Not far from there an imposing dromedary palanquin, on which nomad women rode, carries visitors into the heart of the steppes of Syria.
Other display cases present rich sets of talismans, amulets and ex-votos, evidence of the survival in these regions of ancient beliefs inherited from Antiquity. Others reveal the rich collections of ceramics and arms of the museum or serve as settings for sumptuous jewelry in gold and silver born of the creative genius of jewelers.
In the middle of the tour, a display case dedicated to magic and agrarian rites includes an exceptional set of traditional punishment dolls from Morocco as well as an astonishing Ashura mannequin made of palm fiber collected in Algeria in 1954.
All along the North façade, enclosed areas invite the public to discover certain aspects of Near Eastern and North African arts. The first is dedicated to the art of shadow theater in Syria and in Turkey. The other three areas evoke successively the art of weaving carpets in rural Morocco, Islam and Judaism in North Africa and lastly urban arts.
A final display case, opening onto the world of sub-Saharan Africa, offers a look at the art of the Tuaregs.
To bring these objects to life and create a really intimate and poetic atmosphere, orientalist paintings from the collections of the museum have been placed all along the tour.