Traditional loofahs in demand despite competition from imports

BABIL, January 24 – In the bustling markets of Hilla, traditional bath scrubbers, locally known as ‘lifas’ (the term loofah originates from the Arabic) continue to thrive, particularly appealing to the older generation. These scrubbers, a staple in many Iraqi bathrooms, stand out in the shops with their diverse range of types, colors, and shapes.

Abbas Hameed, a shop owner in Hilla, shared with 964media the sustained demand for these traditional bath items, especially among elderly patrons. While they are a regular part of bathing routines for the older generation, younger customers also value them as a cherished aspect of their cultural heritage.

Uniquely designed with handles on both sides, these lifas cater to a wide range of needs, including aiding those with limited physical dexterity.

“These lifas are primarily handcrafted by local women using sutli threads, with some variants made from nylon. We source them from places such as Al-Hamza Al-Gharbiya, Al-Hashimiyah, and the Tourist District,” said Hameed.

He also emphasized the diversity of offerings, with some softer versions coming from Basra, known for their cotton threads. The prices for these traditional bath scrubbers vary, with a range from 1,000 to 3,000 Iraqi dinars ($0.70 to $2), depending on their material, type, and size.