Handicrafts / WICKERWORK or BASKETRY

Wickerwork is the art of weaving straw and wicker and is as ancient as it is widespread in Lebanon. The main wickerwork centers are found along the coastal line of the Lebanese territory, and in some mountain villages like Zghorta, Kefraya, Baysour and Majdalaya.

 

Initially, this craft developed to answer domestic needs and did not constitute a trade of any kind. Wicker workers mainly manufactured straw mats used in the mountains to protect wooden floors or cover flower pergolas in the summer. These mats were traditionally of one or two colors.

Straw was also used to manufacture big dishes, fruit baskets, sewing boxes, and bags, as well as chairs. All these items were decorated with traditional geometrical designs.

 

As for wicker, it was used to manufacture baskets in different sizes and large deep dishes in which farmers carried their fruits and vegetables.

 

Unfortunately, this craft is declining rapidly as more resistant raw materials like plastic and rubber replace straw and wicker. For this reason, the Lebanese authorities with the help of the “Maison de l’Artisan”, encourages wicker workers to perpetuate their tradition. The latter’s productions are dispatched to Beirut where the “Maison de l’Artisan” promotes and sells them.

 

Near Jbeil, in Amchit, wicker workers have developed the craft of palm weaving to produce caps, baskets and flower pot baskets. In Kouachra, 3 km from the northern frontier, halfah or esparto grass, is used to manufacture multicolored mats and large trays. While in the village of Hermel, 58 km of Baalbek, workshops weave praying rugs with colored corn straw. Finally, coastal villages like Zghorta and Helweh in the north, Kefraya and Sidon in the south, are specialized in braded cane or wicker with which they manufacture large baskets for the transportation of fruits and citrus fruits.

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