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|Photo Essay on the Eighteenth Annual Artas Lettuce Festival
Artas Folklore Center
A Few of the Hikers Participating in the Eighteenth Annual Artas Lettuce Festival-an Unprecedented “Moving Festival” Celebrating 40 years of Hiking in Artas
On Sunday, April 22, 2012, members of a select group of Palestinian and international organizations gathered in the Artas Valley to participate in a unique event—a festival hike, organized by the Artas Folklore Center to celebrate forty years of hiking in Artas. This festival combines two previous “firsts” for the Artas Folklore Center: the first organized hiking in Palestine, initiated by its founder, the late Musa Sanad, 21 years before he had a organization for his tireless work in preserving the tangible and intangible heritage of his village and country, and its famous annual Artas Lettuce Festival, established in 1994, the first of the many agrarian festivals now on the Palestinian calendar. This year, for the first time in Palestine, traditional elements of the festival, which include singing, dancing, music, poetry, exhibitions, crafts and food, were combined in one festival hike which began at the amphitheater of the Solomon's Pool's Resort and Convention Center in the form of “surprises’ en route. The festival was funded by the French Consulate General in Jerusalem and was sponsored by the Governor of the Bethlehem District, Abdel Fattah al Hamayel. The festival partners included Arab Educational Institute, Abraham’s Path, the Palestinian Wildlife Association, Stephan Szepezi author of Walking Palestine, all of whom include hiking among their activities. Phoenix, another partner, took charge of photography and video. The Artas Folklore Center gives special thanks to the Solomon's Pools Resort and Convention Center for the use of its outdoor theater.You can follow the hiker’s progress in this photo essay below—just a small sample of the many evocative photos taken. If you prefer to see thumbnails, you can look here
A Moment's Repose Before the Eighteenth Annual Artas Lettuce Festival
Mahmoud Abdel Kareem. head of the Artas Folklore Center's Masrah el Ain Theater Group (left), Mohammed Ahmad Sa’ad (Abu Hani), President of the Artas Folklore Center(center) and Abu Lutfi, head of the Artas Folklore Center’s Ahya Al Turath Folklore Troupe, pause for a moment before the opening of the Eighteeth Annual Artas Lettuce Festival. Within an hour or so, the festival will begin. They have been up since before dawn, dealing with last minute details for the festival. For several months, they and a small team from the Artas Folklore Center have been hard at work on festival preparations in moments stolen from other pursuits. Not pictured is Festival Coordinator Fadi Sanad, who squeezed his work for the festival between two full-time jobs, and several others who made the festival possible. Following in the footsteps of their visionary leader Musa Sanad, they challenged themselves to present something new and fresh, with minimal resources and support. Will they succeed? What will happen today in the Valley of Encounters?
Sheep under the Festival Banner
A shepherd with his flock passes under the festival banner as it is being strung up, while the head of the Artas Folklore Troupe Ahya Al Turath, and theater group Masrah el Ain look on.
Stringing up the Banner of the Banner of the Eighteenth Annual Artas Lettuce Festival
The Banner of the Eighteenth Annual Artas Lettuce Festival is hoisted up between two buildings near the Solomon's Pools.
A Woman from the Arab Educational Institute's Women's Choir
A woman from the Arab Educational Institute - Open Windows Choir poses for a portrait as the crowd assembles for the Eighteenth Annual Artas Lettuce Festival at the Solomon's Pools Resort and Convention Center.
Abu Lutfi and his "Cubs"
Abu Lutfi, head of the Artas Folklore Troupe has trained generations of youngsters in Artas and beyond. Here he is with his latest group of "cubs" as he likes to call them.
Mohammed Ahmad Sa’ad (Abu Hani),President of the Artas Folklore Center Giving his Speech
Mohammed Ahmad Sa’ad (Abu Hani),President of the Artas Folklore Center outlines the history of hiking in the Artas Valley and how it relates to the history of the village and the Artas Folklore Center. Holding the loud speaker is Awad Abu Sway, the festival moderator.
The Women's Choir of the Arab Educational Institute-Open Windows, Bethlehem
Wearing beautiful thobs, the women's choir of the Arab Educational Institute - Open Windows in Bethlehem, captivate the crowd by singing old favorites known to the Palestinians. The foreigners were not forgotten; they were invited to sing the chorus of "We Shall Overcome." A long-time partner of the Artas Folklore Center, The Arab Educational Institute excels at developing programs to strengthen and communicate Palestinian identity. In 1999, long before hiking was in the air, the two organizations developed a unique series of nature and heritage hikes for Palestinian schoolchildren that included such intriguing names as "Saints and Sufis," and included such places as Battir, Al Khader, Wadi Fouqin, Beni Naim and Samoa. Unfortunately these hikes were interrupted by the second Intifada. Click here for a videoclip of one of their songs.
Abdel Fatah al Hamayel, Governor of the Bethlehem District
Abdel Fatah al Hamayel, Governor of the Bethlehem District, sponsor the the Eighteenth Annual Artas Lettuce Festival, addresses the festival goers.
Magical Mystery Tour
No one was really expected to fill in the Magical Mystery Tour sheet in which participants in the Eighteenth Annual Artas Lettuce Festival were asked to note the order in which they came upon sites during their hike from Solomon's Pools to Artas and write a few notes next to each with the help of some hints. With so many people and such a rare opportunity to enjoy singing, dancing and nature who would be listening even if they were told? The idea was to show the types of interactive experiences being developed for the visitor on the Artas Folklore Trail and to signal the great range of interesting history and heritage of Artas which visitors can learn about on a return visit to the Artas Folklore Center. Bonus questions in honor of our funder, the French Consulate General of Jerusalem highlighted the "French Connection" in Artas. Already the pre-festival materials included a Challenge Quiz designed to arouse the curiousity of the hikers.
The Tie that Binds
Perhaps it is love for their heritage that binds these young members of the Artas Folklore Center's Ahya Al Turath Troupe who enlivened the Eighteeth Annual Artas Lettuce Festival.
Musicians and Dancers
Musicians and dancers will accompany the hikers all the way to Artas during the unique festival hike of the Eighteenth Annual Artas Lettuce Festival.
The Poet of Abu Dis
The hikers on at the Artas Folklore Center's Moving Festival only walk a few meters before being treated to a poetry recital by this talented poetMosa Hetawi from Ru'iya (Vision Association for Culture and Artas (VACA) of Abu Dis.
Thanks to plentiful rainfall, the Solomon's Pools, normally drained dry in recent years due to many accidental deaths by drowning, present the perfect picture--full enough to be picturesque without hiding the work of the jinn. But there is no time for such tales today. These are best told with a smaller group of visitors to the Artas Folklore Center.
The Poet and Guitarist from Ru'iya, Abu Dis
The poet (Mosa Hetawi) and the guitarist (Omar Nasrallah) from Abu Dis's Ru'iya or Vision Association for Culture and Arts (VACA), confer for a moment under the shade of a tree near Solomon's Pools.
The Water Bottle Dance
Water bottle on her head, this lady from el Arroub performs a dance while seated in front of the Solomon's Pools to the accompaniment of live music coming from all around.
Singing and Dancing all the Way
The various musicians and dancers sang and danced the whole way to the village of Artas during the Festival Hike.
"Cubs" of the Artas Folklore Center's Folklore Troupe
Two "cubs" of the Artas Folklore Center pause to have their photo taken with bagpipes.
Palestinian Woman making Ishraq at the Eighteenth Annual Artas Lettuce Festival
This Palestinian woman seems to be enjoying the festivities as she prepares Ishraq on a saj oven for the hungry hikers.
Making Ishraq on the Saj Oven
Hikers watching hungrily as Palestinian women make Ishraq on the saj. They will each get a piece accompanied by a small cup of sheep's milk.
Members of the Artas Folklore Troupe take a Break
These youngsters from the Artas Folklore Center's Ahya al Turath Folklore Troupe take a break away from the rest of the crowd.
Hikers get a pick- me- up from Arabic coffee poured from this ornate brass Ibriq.
Meeting in the Valley of Encounters
Some members of Ru'iya or Vision Association for Culture and Performing Arts (VACA) from Abu Dis and foreign guests in an encounter under a tree on a hill overlooking the Artas Valley during the Eighteenth Annual Artas Lettuce Festival.
Palestinian Women Resting under Shady Tree
Some Palestinian women rest under the shade of a tree with the smell of freshly baked Ishraq on the Saj, and to the sounds of the tabla and Shabib.
The Convent of the Hortus Conclusus from a Distance
Some of the foreigners participating from the Walking Palestine Hiking Group and the Jerusalem Women's Expat Group are torn between watching their step and beholding the lovely Convent of the Hortus Conclusus as it comes dramatically into view.
Leaping towards Artas
A young hiker leaps down the hill as the Convent of Artas comes into view.
Approaching the Village of Artas
To the right is the Hortus Conclusus. On the other side of the valley toward the left is the village of Artas where the Artas Folklore Center, its village house/museum the Spring and other historic buildings restored by the Artas Folklore Center are found, in addition to the village mosque, on whose wall a historic inscription can be found which dates back several centuries. Lettuce grows in the valley between the Convent and the village.
The Convent of the Hortus Conclusus or Enclosed Garden
Built in 1901, the Convent of the Hortus Conclusus lies across the valley from the village of Artas and is an integral part of the Muslim village of Artas.
Abu Lutfi Approaching the Convent of the Hortus Conclusus
Abu Lutfi and a member of the Artas Folklore Troupe round the bend that will take them on the bridge over the Artas Valley where the famous lettuce of the village is grown, to the Convent of the Hortus Conclusus.
Sister Rose Meets a Friend
Sister Rose, a nun from the Convent of the Hortus Conclusus, or "Enclosed Garden," chats with an acquaintance. She went out of her way to make the adjacent Soler Park, which has been unused for two years due to construction, available for the Artas Lettuce Festival.
Bagpipes in the Garden
Bagpipes were among the instruments heard in the Soler Park, another instrument mastered by Khalil Qaraqa, musician from nearby Dehaisheh.
The Poet of Abu Dis
Mosa Hetawi, the Poet of Abu Dis's Ru'iya or Vision continues to captivate the crowd in the Soler Park belonging to the Nuns of the Enclosed Garden.
This member of the Artas Folklore Center'a Folklore Troupe looks pensive as he listens to the poetry recited by Mosa Hetawi of Ru'iya or Vision of Abu Dis.
A Theatrical Sketch by Ru'iya or Vision Association for Culture and Performing Arts (VACA)of Abu Dis
The members of the organization of Ru'iya or Vision from Abu Dis perform a theatrical sketch underlining Palestinian's attachment to their land and heritage in the Soler Park belonging to the Sisters of the Hortus Conclusus.
The Artas Folklore Troupe at the Convent of the Hortus Conclusus
Having sung and danced all the way from the Solomon's Pools, Abu Lutfi and the members of the Artas Folklore Troupe, take a well-deserved break in front of the Convent of the Hortus Conclusus, "the enclosed garden." Much in demand, the prize-winning folklore troupe will perform again at a wedding in a matter of hours.
Brass Coffeepot and Lettuce
Awad Abu Sway, the moderator of the Eighteeth Annual Artas Lettuce Festival, (right) takes a break on the steps leading to the Artas Folklore Center. Seated next to the brass coffeepot that accompanied the hikers, he already has his lettuce.
Man with Lettuce at Eighteenth Annual Artas Lettuce Festival
This man helps distribute lettuce in the area in front of the Artas Folklore Center before visitors prepare to depart. The green of the lettuce picks out the color of the doors.
Let the Lettuce Come or Let the Children Come
Children eating Lettuce in front of the Artas Folklore Center
Lettuce in a Backpack
This woman will return home with a backpack full of lettuce from the Eighteenth Annual Artas Lettuce Festival.
Two Lovely Women in Thobs at the Artas Folklore Center
Beyond the two women is visible the Mosque of Omar and the Convent of the Hortus Conclusus.
Women selling embroidery at the
Eighteenth Annual Artas Lettuce Festival in one of the historic village buildings of the Artas Folklore Center.
Last Look at The Three Graces
Tired but happy after the festival hike, Three Graces wait for transportation back to their cars at Solomon's Pools.
very beautiful and emotional ma sha' Allah!