Preserving a slice of heritage
Traditional carpentry endures in Al-Zubair with wooden toys
AL-ZUBAIR — In the historic city of Al-Zubair, carpenters continue the age-old craft of making traditional wooden toys for children, known as “Al-Gari,” [Pram or baby stroller] a testament to the resilience of local woodworking workshops amidst the decline of the profession. Carpenters express a deep attachment to the scent of wood, a constant in their lives since the 1970s, despite the challenges facing their trade.
This enduring dedication to carpentry in Al-Zubair showcases the craftsmen’s resilience and their commitment to preserving a slice of cultural heritage, despite the modern challenges they face.
Al-Gari, a three-wheeled wooden toy, serves a similar function to a baby walker, aiding children in their first steps. Alongside this cherished item, the workshops also produce sewing machine bases and date pressing boxes, preserving the artisanal heritage of their forefathers.
Mohammed Kazem, a carpenter, told 964media about the enduring demand for Al-Gari in Basra families, highlighting its role in helping children learn to walk. “We are committed to preserving the profession of our fathers and grandfathers, striving to prevent its disappearance. Along with Al-Gari, we continue to make date pressing boxes and sewing machine bases,” he said.
Hikmat Ali, another carpenter, spoke on the changing life in Al-Zubair and the declining support for handicrafts, “Despite the city’s rich historical roots in crafts, support for manual industries is dwindling, and interest in heritage items of cultural value is rare.”
The demand for traditional sewing machine bases among tailors is modest, yet these items have maintained their price of 10,000 dinars for years. The influx of imported goods at competitive prices has significantly impacted their business. However, the carpenters remain determined to continue their work, a craft they know best, especially given the low rental costs of their shops.