Palestine – Gazan upholsterer fights to keep the ancient craft alive
Location: Gaza, Palestine
Source: A24 Gaza
Restriction: A24 subscribers
Palestinian Salim Al-Aklouk is exerting paramount efforts to keep the old Arabian upholstery craft alive in the Gaza Strip.
Salim told A24 News Agency that the traditional craft, inherited from his father and grandfathers forty years ago, is the main source of income for him and his 18-members family.
The fifty-five-year-old stressed that due to the poor living conditions in the coastal Strip, demands for upholstering and renovating old furniture increased as many people could not buy new furniture.
Salim uses machines and works manually with a needle and thread when stuffing the fabric that is carefully selected to give coolness in summer, and heat in winter.
For his part, Salim’s son Abdul Karim Al-Aklouk, who helps his father in his work, said cotton and wool provide people a comfortable sleep without muscle or bone pain.
Craftsmen in the Strip have suffered from frequent power outages that led to reducing their working hours and thus lower production. They have said their products compete with the modern ones in the market that are sometimes cheaper than handicrafts.
Soundbite (Salim Al-Aklouk – upholsterer and shop owner in Gaza):
“I learned this profession from my father when I was twelve years old. Now I am fifty-five years old and it is still my only source of income. I upholster quilts, mattresses, pillows, and everything related to the home furnishings. Sometimes we make new quilts. Pillows, quilts, and mattresses made of cotton are good for health, despite all new and modern products. I prefer earning a little amount of money to leave this profession. I seek to preserve it. In the past, people in the times a wedding used to welcome us warmly and give us sweets when we come to their homes. We upholster cotton, wool, and all other materials.”
Soundbite (Abdul Karim Al-Aklouk – Salim’s son and assistant):
“I help my father in upholstery. We continued to work and preserve our fathers’ job despite the fact that it is not much needed now and is about to disappear. However, we fight to revive it. People do not upholster their furniture nowadays despite being better for their health. They buy ready-made modern products that are made of synthetic materials. Cotton is a natural material that absorbs human sweat during sleep, while synthetic materials do not, but even cause headaches.