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Since the 14th century, Nablus has been the historical centre of the soap industry throughout the region. A century ago, the city’s thirty soap factories supplied half the soap in Palestine. The industry declined during the mid-20th century following the destruction caused by the 1927 earthquake, and later from the ongoing Israeli military occupation. Unfortunately, today only two soap factories survive.
The Toukan family factory has been one of the champions of the Nabulsi soap makers and continue to maintain this traditional craft.
The formula for the soap is strikingly simple: a combination of virgin olive oil, water, locally supplied lime, and a basic sodium compound made by mixing the powdered ash of the barilla plant that grows along the banks of the River Jordan. The finished product is ivory-coloured and is almost scentless.
- Further reading:
- Crafting traditional olive oil soap in Palestine [Al-Jazeera]
- The city of soap: Nabulsi identity beyond the communal experience of occupation [openDemocracy]
- Toukan Soap Factory (Nablus, PS)
The Toukan factory is one of the most famous and oldest factories in Nablus. It was built around 1910 on the outskirts of the old city, which is now its heart. The factory was established by the two brothers Hafiz and Abdul Fattah Toukan who belonged to the sixth generation after Ibrahim Aagha Al Shawrbaji, the grandfather of all the Tuqan family branches. In 1929, the soap factory became a limited liability company under the name “Hafez & Abdel Fattah Tuqan Ltd. Co.” and the Two Keys “Al Muftaheen” logo was registered as a trademark. In order to avoid the falsification of the Two Keys logo, the Board of Directors decided in 1940s to register other similar trademarks, such as Two Swords, Two Scissors, and Two Axes, and they are all still registered to the present day. When the West Bank became a part of Jordan in 1950, the Board registered at the Jordanian Ministry of Economy under the number 49; making it one of the leading companies in the region.
Olive oil, lime, basic sodium
6 x 6 cm, 150 gr.