Handicraft | Discover Lebanon

Handicraft | Discover Lebanon

Three vital extracts from this page:

Contemporary craftsmen have perpetuated the precious and traditional techniques of their ancestors. Carpet weaving factories in Aïdamoun,Tripoliand Fekheh remain loyal to the Anatolian school, while those of Baaqline still follow the Iranian discipline.

Carpets woven inLebanonare polychromic and very supple. Most commonly used colors, other than black and white, are red, navy blue, pink and yellow. They are often used as floor carpets, but also as sofa or bed covers, decorative pillow cases, or hung as tapestries…

Joy!!!

…In the Beqaa valley, more specifically in Fekheh, Jdeidet el-Fekheh, Irsal or Bakkifa, craftswomen weave knotted pile carpets. They weave on vertical looms (haute lisse), producing rudimentary carpets that resemble closely to Anatoly’sBergamacarpets invented byCentral Asia’s nomads.

The knotted pile carpets were manufactured in dark colors, like navy blue, burgundy or brown, and their background was sprinkled with small geometrical designs, lozenges and hexagons. The traditional hand and eye motifs were also commonly found.

Knotted pile carpets are manufactured with ewe wool imported fromBaalbek, and renown for its strength. The wool was first washed and combed, then dyed and spinned, and finally woven.

Traditionally, six women would sit on the ground facing a vertical loom. One of them would sing her directions to the others, hence communicating the number of knots to be made and the colors to be used. In the Beqaa region, women used the symmetrical knot (also called Turkish knot) which held the two weft threads from outside and came out from the inside as a tuft, thus forming the soft side of the carpet. After each knot, the craftswomen cut the thread with their knife. A row of knots is followed by three rows of weft that weavers would press manually with the help of a comb. When weaving is completed, the carpet’s surface is leveled with special scissors.

These women would also use their knotted pile weaving craft to manufacture the pillows and bed covers that every bride had to have in her trousseau…

!!!!!!!!

…While in the village of Hermel, 58 km of Baalbek, workshops weave praying rugs with colored corn straw…

!!!!!!!!^&$%^!!!

Wow, where did I miss this??!

Much thanks to Joseph Tarrab, a Lebanese Art Critic (to whom it is apparently unjust to describe without mentioning “prominent” or “renowned” at least once), I landed some leads for actual recent and on-going craft-related initiatives!

Aside: Joseph Tarrab was also a member of the Jury in The Age of Bronze: Bronze Casting Competition, an event coordinated by Cesar Nammour and Gabriele Schaub of the Modern and Contemporary Art Museum, for which I was honored with two awards. I can’t stress how strange it is to have any association with Mr. Tarrab, in more ways than one!

In light of the last month, Part II: Enough waiting

View outside a gate, towards a big patch of garden and stepping stones in Gemmayze.

View outside a gate, towards a big patch of garden and stepping stones in Gemmayze.

There has been a number of things in the works with the weaving project and 392RMEIL393. Here’s a brief list:

1) I want to begin a series of workshops on weaving in two techniques, 3 times a week. Details haven’t been decided yet, in terms of budget, timing, number of students per session, materials, etc. I have 8 small looms and Yousef brought in tools to accommodate each. I’m counting on hearing from some of you out there. I need students! We gotta give this a good spin before sending it out to the world!

2) Speaking of sending this project out to the world, I am actively looking for an NGO or INGO to help support this project, and most importantly get in touch with potential volunteers from the Syrian communities they have been established in. In most cases, I have been emailing this or that group and individual. In a few cases, the interested individual or organization reached me or stopped in to check out the project.

The issue here is finding Syrian refugee volunteers and asking them if they are interested to take a few workshop sessions of their own volition, and following that up with transportation and other desired services for them, like food and beverages. I was informed this could become a huge legal matter if it’s not done in conjunction with a representing body, like an NGO. That said, if a group or initiative – already active in any location(s) and well acquainted with the refugees residing within – shows interest in the weaving project, the work required to find volunteers is cut in half. The services can then be negotiated.

It sounds like a simple enough plan. Now it’s just a matter of finding the right people, and waiting. A bit of waiting, but waiting nonetheless.

3) Although it might be best to wait before announcing this, there are plans to set up an official opening or show of the art work in progress, followed by an official set of workshops. The idea for these workshops seems to be less rigid about placing sessions on certain days at certain times. It will be a combination of that approach and an all-welcome and feel-free-to-come-in atmosphere. I think this will be a series of public sessions or workshops(?).  Maybe once the plan is set, I can say exactly what it is and give a proper description of it.

4) I am actively looking for other artists and craftspeople who can participate in the main line of the project: imparting a trade or craft to Syrian refugees. If you or anyone you know is interested, please reach me!

5) This one’s just fun. I have here what has been a plain, raw wood and cotton loom that all of you have looked at over and over:

1424272_10152228792922594_1263209888_n 77186_10152228792852594_2114894455_n 1625586_10152228792767594_104362341_nNow, I’ve had enough of looking at the same thing. I’m sure some of you out there could contribute something to break the monotony. For the wood, it could be a drawing, illustration, calligraphy, stencil, stickers or glue-on items like image prints, cut-outs or text. The cotton strings can’t take too many hits, as they will eventually become a rug, but if there are slips of thin material anyone wants to insert or something delicate on the threads you’d like to draw – very delicately – with a desired effect in mind, I’m welcome to taking submissions. Of course, credit will be given to all you contributors, or collaborators as I will call you from now on.

I hope to follow up with more ideas for collaborative activities. This will require a little more organizing than what I’ve offered up here. I realized how long it’s been since I gave some groundwork for the project when a visitor told me that they had no idea I was planning to hold workshops for Syrian refugees, while I simply took it for granted. Oh dear!

Well, I hope I redeemed myself with this blog post. I still continue to look for other initiatives, drives and centers working towards the cause. Happily, the part in my project statement about there being little effort undertaken towards imparting crafts to Syrian refugees in Lebanon no longer holds. The next time I gather my thoughts on this, I will share them here.

All the best to you, reader/future student/future collaborator!

Progress made here and there

This is exactly a month after the last update below. Without the 3-4 days off per week, and possibly with longer sessions of weaving, I could make some serious progress. Below is a photo of the newly arranged space! The … Continue reading