Christmas baubles from Bethlehem
كرات عيد الميلاد من بيت لحم
Around the world, Christmas is celebrated in commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ, which took place over 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem. So why do we too rarely address the contemporary reality of this city and region, where over 30,000 Palestinians live surrounded by 22 Israeli settlements with an insidious oppression and occupation?
In Hebron, not too far from Bethlehem, one of the old traditional crafts is the glass industry. Artisans produce these wonderful glass balls which can be used for all sorts of decorations, including for Christmas trees. These are ‘Christmas baubles from Bethlehem’, a hand-blown, contemporary creation that reminds us Bethlehem is not only to be commemorated, but celebrated and cherished in its ongoing resistance against the Israeli occupation.
- Hebron Glass & Ceramics Factory (PS)
The tradition of glassblowing continues today in three factories just north of the city, a short distance between the town of Halhul and Hebron. Two of the factories are owned by the Natsheh family. They produce primarily souvenirs, most of which are also used as household items. A large hall close to each of the factories displays wine glasses, dishes, bowls, flower pots, and other products. Although most objects are not decorated, some have artistically applied glass strings. Metallic decoration is a recent innovation of the industry.
Glass beads for jewellery have traditionally been made in Hebron. Blue beads and glass beads with ‘eyes’ (owayneh) were made and used as amulets since they were considered particularly effective against the evil-eye.
In the old city’s Al-Kazazin quarter (Kazazin meaning ‘people who make glass’), three families operated 14 glass factories. Today, there are only two of them left, run by the Natsheh family. The first Intifada, combined with the affluence of cheap goods from China and the rise in oil prices forced the majority of glass shop owners out of business. Both remaining factories have relocated to the entrance of the city, because tourists are sometimes fearful to go too deep into the old city.
Mr. Hamdi – who runs the Hebron Glass & Ceramics Factory together with his brother -started working when he was 17, in 1967. Nowadays, he exclusively deals with administrative aspects, but he is still capable to tell which one of his workers did which piece just by looking at it. The savoir-faire is passed down from father to son, but some are more talented than others and each glass-blower insufflates his own personal touch into his work. The job is hard, sitting seven hours a day next to an over 1000°C hot oven. Workers learn from early childhood and continuously refine the skill. Hebron Glass is the leading product of those companies. The name originally applied to the national hand-crafted, mouth-blown glass named in Arabic Zujaj Nafakh. Because the color blue is a cultural favorite in the Arab world, Hebron Glass came to describe the blue glass products, both the light turqoise blue (copper blue) and the deep royal blue (cobalt blue). The factories also specialize in a Middle Eastern favorite, Imzakhraf, which is a dot-painted, Arabesque design technique on traditional blown glass.
€6,50 – €7,50
Identity = health
الهوية = الصحة
Half a decade before the Covid-19 pandemic، Gaza-born artist Mohammed Musallam created a face mask based on the traditional keffiyeh textile. The conceptual artwork could be seen both as an expression of Palestinian identity and as a means of protection; caring for identity is as important as protecting health itself. It was first used in Gazan hospitals under the Israeli occupation’s siege. Impossible at that time to foresee the impact of Covid-19; this face mask shows the power of artistic imagination. The artwork did not lose any of its meaning; just the contrary.
Gaza’s potentially disastrous combination of widespread impoverishment, densely-packed refugee camps and extremely limited hospital capacity make us even more aware of the catastrophic impact of the Israeli occupation and how fragile life can be. Caring for each other is more important than ever.
Under Musallam’s supervision, the new masks were produced in Gaza City by tailor Abu Alaa Ghaben; to be worn for your safety and as an act of solidarity.
- Mohammed Musallam (PS)
Mohammed Musallam was born in Gaza in 1974 after his family had been dislocated from the historic Palestine as a consequent of the 1948 war. He holds a PhD in philosophy of Fine Arts, Painting Department, Fine Arts College, Minia University, Egypt. He currently resides in Gaza and works there as a lecturer of “Painting and the History of Palestinian Arts” at the College of Arts, Al Aqsa University. From his first steps as a university student he became greatly influenced by the abstract art processes and approaches. In his Art, he focuses on portraying a range of humanistic issues, which go beyond the limitations imposed by any prevailing time-related matters, which may be oppressive and persistent simultaneously. At the same time, he concentrates on conveying the notion of the preservation of our humaneness amid the harshness of our environment as one of the most important reasons for our existence.
- Abu Alaa Ghaben (Gaza, PS)
Carpenter living in Gaza City.
Multi layered face-mask (front side keffiyeh textile, backside white cotton) with elastic straps, washable & reusable
19 x 9 cm
€9,95 – €12,95