The eve of Ramazan is a frantic time for Tunisian coppersmith Chedli Maghraoui, who skilfully puts a new shine on families’ favourite kitchenware before the Muslim holy month starts. From couscous pots to beloved tea sets, the metalware gets a professional polish from the 69-year-old craftsman who labours away solo at his workshop in the old city of Tunis. So great is the pre-Ramazan rush that he has to politely tell customers he is just unable to work any faster: “I can’t do it — I still have other orders and, as you can see, I’m working alone.” Maghraoui scrubs items and uses a method known as hot-dip tinning where he coats the copper with a thin layer of tin to stop metal oxidation — a process that makes pots gleam like new. As he reconditions one well-loved pewter piece, he fans an oven fire that heats a pot with the object inside, before brushing it and plunging it into a large bucket of water. Maghraoui says he is proud to be among the few still practicing the time-honoured craft in the ancient North African city: “It’s a tradition that has existed for centuries and it’s still alive.” Tunisian women often receive copper or white copper gifts when they get married, or inherit the items from their mothers. Many bring their beloved heirlooms to Maghraoui to protect them a little longer. “I get a special feeling when I use my shiny pot during Ramazan”, said Sana Boukhris, 49, an accountant. “The tradition reminds me of good times as a child when my mother would prepare for the holy month. “There is a blessing in these things I inherited from my mother.” Dalila Boubaker, a housewife, said she could only afford to get two pots polished up for Ramazan this year as households across Tunisia struggle with inflation and high unemployment. “Everything has become so expensive,” sighed Boubaker, with the cost for a polish job now ranging from 20 to 200 dinars ($6-$65) per item, depending on the item’s size and shape. Abdejlil Ayari, who has worked as a coppersmith in the medina for 48 of his 60 years, said the run-up to Ramazan was intense every year. “People prepare to have their kitchenware treated before Ramazan so it looks impeccable for the whole month, so the kitchen looks good and women enjoy their pots,” he said.