Palestinian artisans

This episode is the last episode in a series of four podcast episodes about the work of Handmade Palestine. In these four episodes we feature several Palestinian artisans and their handicrafts.

Handmade Palestine

Handmade Palestine is an initiative that supports local Palestinian artisans to sell their handicrafts through bazars and the online webshop.

They support 25 Palestinian artisans, mainly women and women cooperatives. Each one of them has their own stories to the products.

In the month of November 2021 Handmade Palestine is running a crowdfunding campaign to have more budget for marketing so they can reach out to a larger audience.

To support them in their work, Stories from Palestine podcast decided to produce a series on the Palestinian artisans.

Palestinian Nabulsi olive soap

Palestine is famous for its olive soap produce. Especially the city of Nablus. Amjad is the owner of the Nabulsi olive soap factory in the old city of Nablus. He explains that there are many benefits of olive oil for making soap and that Palestine has lots of supply of olives to make the olive oil. In the traditional Nabulsi soap they use the roots of a local plant called ‘sheeh’ in Arabic and Mugwort in English. They dry and then smash the roots and mix them with water so that the PH level will rise. This mixture is added to the olive oil and heated on a fire for seven days. The hot liquid is then poured on a flat floor to dry. After it dries it is cut into individual soap bars and each soap bar gets stamped with the factories stamp. Then the bars are stapled to form a tower to let the pieces of soap dry.

The Nabulsi olive soap factory in old city of Nablus

Amjad has developed the soap making by adding goat milk and camel milk to the mixture and he is now working on a new soap with Dead Sea mud.

You can order the Nabulsi soap through the website of Handmade Palestine

Ceramic Center in Nisf Jubeil

The village of Nisf Jubeil got its name from its location between two mountains. Because that is what it means literally. In the middle of the mountains. It is a small town with very little job opportunities. When the Ceramic Center opened its doors it gave training to local women who had no previous experience. They love what they are doing, creating new designs to embellish the ceramics. It gives them an opportunity to discover their own creativity and to have a paid job within their own community.

Ceramic soap dish

You can buy their products on the website of Handmade Palestine

Bedouin felted animals at Khan al Ahmar

The Jahallin bedouins at Khan al Ahmar, between Jerusalem and Jericho, are originally from the Naqab desert. They were forcibly displaced in 1948 when the State of Israel was created. They ended up living in the Westbank. Due to the construction of Israeli settlements and roads and the military control of Israel over most of the agricultural land in the Westbank, they were forced to settle. However, in the place where they live now, close to a highway and a settlement, they do not have electricity or running water. Israel does not want to provide them. They are also not allowed to build anything, not even a school. That’s why with help of an Italian NGO they made a school of old car tires and mud. But the Israeli authorities have decided that the Bedouins have to move to another location, close to the garbage dump.

As they are no longer able to move around with their flock, they have lost their main source of income from goat and sheep milk, cheese and animals. A small project was set up to use the wool of the small number of the remaining animals to produce felt and make felted wool animals like sheep, camels and donkeys.

Felted wool donkey by Khan al Ahmar bedouins

According to Im Raed it has been very hard in the last two years due to the Covid pandemic. There are no more tourists that buy their products and it is hard for them to organize other types of sales.

You can order their produce on the website of Handmade Palestine.