The ancient craft of basket weaving has been practiced in Lebanon’s rural villages for centuries. Baskets are produced from the raw materials available in the region, including reeds, wheat stalk, palm leaves, corn straw, bulrush and alfa (esparto grass) are skillfully interlaced and shaped into the required receptacles. The wickerwork centers are found in all Lebanese territory. In Al-Kouachra, 3km from the northern border with Syria, halfah (esparto grass) is used to create multicolored mats and trays. In Hermel, prayer rugs are weaved from colored corn straw. In villages such as Zgharta and Bcharre in the North, Helweh in Jbeil, Kefraya in the Bekaa, and Saida in the South rougher braided cane or wicker are woven to create larger baskets for the transportation of fruits, vegetables or fishes. Amchit developed its own version of basket weaving using palm leaves. basket weaving is a profession that concerns men and women. It all depends on the raw material used.

Weaving techniques vary as much as the materials that are worked by hand to give birth to many basketry items. For example, mature reeds are picked at the end of winter, when the sap is still retained in the roots, before it rises in the trunk, because that would risk rotting it, after the stage of drying up. Their woody stem, hollow and rigid, is cleared with a bill hook of the knots present on its surface and of small extensions. Arranged, side by side, the reeds are assembled in vast knotted sheaves, then hung upside down, to be dried and softened in the sun. Then they are spread out on the ground, and are crushed by the rolling of a heavy stone millstone, which cracks them lengthwise, without breaking them. Hollowed out once again of their internal imperfections, these flattened reed strips are ready to be assembled. The craftsman chooses the strands, depending on the model to be made. Without nails, without screws and without glue, he assembles with his skillful hands, the plant fibers and braids them, so that they hold together solidly, according to proven techniques acquired from father to son. In the village of Kwashra in Akkar, the alfa plant, which is from the cane family, grows. Women cut the plant and convert it into threads that are dyed and dried to become a group of colored strands that are also used for making trays.

In the coastal fishing ports, the baskets are connected to the sea, where they have a strong presence in the harbor, filled with fishing nets or used to carry the morning’s catch. In rural parts, these rustic baskets are used to carry figs, olives, and fruits during harvesting season, or flat woven circular mats were used to dry keshek on the roofs of houses in mountain and Bekaa villages. Beyond the rural regions of Lebanon, traditional baskets also found their purpose in daily urban life. In the old neighborhoods of cities, baskets are dangling down from the high balconies of crumbling heritage buildings.

For centuries, rural communities were keen to weave baskets and sustain the handicraft for many generations as part of their living heritage. Today, basket weavers, with the help of experts in the field, are developing modern designs and techniques. Thus, many national or local NGOs, in collaboration with international entities are supporting the revival of the basket weaving industry, hiring contemporary designers to update traditional methods of basket making in ways that suit the tastes modern. These initiatives, mainly targeting women, have a positive impact on tourism, commercial activity and sustainable development.

Blibliography, sitography, communities link
Majdalani Nour, La vannerie: hommage aux artisans du Liban, Muʼassasah al-Waṭanīyah lil-Turāth (Lebanon), Terbol : L'ecomusee de Terbol, 2009.,made%20from%20woven%20palm%20leaves.