Traditional Sheep Shearing | Raw Free-Range Wool from TUNIQ on Vimeo.

 

This short film shows how most sheep are sheared in Tunisia, particularly in rural areas. People still use shearing scissors working by hand to carefully and gently cut the wool off their flock so that the sheep do not overheat in the summer. All of these sheep are not owned by us, but rather by the farmers and shepherds who we work with to buy wool from annually in Spring time. We believe in preserving decentralized property and land ownership and rural autonomy. After being sheared, the sheep are traditionally rubbed with local wild herbs to protect their exposed skin, sooth any irritation, and prevent disease.

Sheep shearing is a delicate skill that requires much experience. The shearers in this video have trained since they were 12 years old. Sheep have very delicate skin underneath their wool and care is necessary to prevent harming them. In the past, whenever anyone was shearing their flock, all neighbors would come and help for the day, getting through the flock’s haircuts together and sharing sweets, sheep rides for children, and a large couscous feast at the end of the day.

On display in this video, you can also see the diverse colors revealed when the top layer of wool is cut away. Below, a rainbow of hair colors can be revealed from white, cream, grey, tan, brown, to black and all in spots and unique patterns creating works of art beneath the surface. You can never guess what will be revealed after shearing just from looking at the outside of the wool! These different colored hairs are then separated into color groups and spun into thread or mixed to create even more delicately-textured color gradients. It continues to astound us that all of this is provided for us, without ever needing to reach for natural plant dyes, let alone synthetic and pollutive dyes.

Sheep are truly a miracle, and this week we recognize and reflect on them.

 

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