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Glassblowing in Hebron

Contributed by Toine Van Teeffelen on 04.06.2006:

“Glass blowing was brought to Palestine from Turkey more than 300 hundred years ago by his forefathers, recounts Faris Al-Natsheh of one of the largest Glass and Pottery Factories in Hebron:

“My great grandfather began making rings, bracelets, beads, and a line of medical “Kas Al-Hawa” (meaning Vacuum Glass) used since medieval times for the treatment known as “cupping” to draw pain from the body. Great grandfather Al-Natsheh introduced and developed the coloring and modeling techniques that lead to Hebron becoming the glass manufacturing center in the region.”

Today all the smaller producers have closed their doors. There are only two companies that have grown and consolidated their manufacturing capability and market position.

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.

Today in Palestine Hebron Glass is also the name used to describe a modern line of decorated, European stemmed glassware (in Arabic Madhun, or Rasm Yad, meaning hand decorated). The Old City of Jerusalem, where it too has become known as Hebron Glass, is presently the main outlet for this line of glassware. Many of the glassworks are in Holy Land motifs, including the distinctive black line and blue or multicolor floral motif.”

(Adapted from: Al Salam Hand Crafted Antiquities, Catalogue no. 1, Hebron1997).

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