Manama: Handicrafts unique to Bahrain are on show at Bahrain’s annual Heritage Festival, which opened yesterday.
The 24th annual festival, being held under the patronage of His Majesty King Hamad, was opened by His Majesty’s Personal Representative Shaikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al
Present at the event, organised by the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA) under the theme Rhythms of Bahrain, at Bahrain National Museum were BACA president Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, Capital Governor Shaikh Hisham bin Abdulrahman Al Khalifa, assistant under-secretary for culture and national heritage Shaikha Azza bint Abdulrahman Al Khalifa and director of culture and arts department Shaikha Hala bint Mohammed Al Khalifa.
Participants told the GDN that they were proud to take part in the event, but were worried about the arts dying out as younger generations refuse to take up the mantle.
“I was inspired by my grandfather, who used to sell the wood that makes boats and models,” model boat maker Abdullah Buzaboon told the GDN.
“I started making them in 1980s and they range from four inches long to three metres long.
“Customers come to my shop from all over the GCC and I even stock most of the model boats at Suq Waqf in Qatar.
“I have five children and they’re not much interested in the profession, but one of my sons, Mohammed, is apprenticing with me and I hope that he will take it over eventually.”
His shop, which is named after him, is situated in Muharraq Suq and said that his works vary from BD8 for small tourist mementos to BD2,000 for intricate, large-scale pieces.
Fellow participant and Al Haif For Arabic Coffee co-owner Esa Al Khaldi said he was new to the coffee profession and began after he retired.
“One of the distinctions of our coffee is that it’s quick to make and doesn’t need to be stewed for a while,” he said.
“It’s easy to just add to a flask and add hot water, which makes it convenient.
“It’s useful for expats, of course, but also for Bahrainis and even Saudis who have said that they like it.
“We’re part of the Bahraini Productive Families, so we’re situated at the Capital Mall.”
Embroiders known as kurars, who weave golden thread in traditional clothing for both women and men, were also present at the festival.
“I had a neighbour who did it and she needed help, so I began and I found that and loved it,” said group head Mona Shwaiter.
“It took me about two months to learn and I’ve been doing it for 10 years now.
“We work at the Shaikh Ebrahim Centre for Culture and Research three days a week.”
Kurars have to always work in teams of four.
“You have three people called il-dawakheer (braiders) and the gataba (threader), otherwise it doesn’t work.
“It’s a profession that’s almost died out, but we’ve been working to revive it, that’s why we’re doing this.
“There’s a lot of people that want these traditional Bahraini products at the moment.
“These kind of events are also helpful in promoting us, it puts into people’s minds and pushes us to the forefront.
“It’s very hard and not everyone can do it, it’s exhausting work, with four-hour stretches without moving.
“But the issue now is that there are not many people who want to learn – the centre opened it up and no-one really came.
“The issue as well is we need teams, because one person can’t do it alone.
“Our children don’t seem to have the patience for this kind of work anymore.”
Calligrapher Ebrahim Al Obaid said he was also working hard to generate interest in the beautiful scriptwriting.
“I want people to get back into it, so I’ve even made starter kits,” he said.
“One is a pen with a small vial of ink, the other is a book with instructions, a pen and ink.
“I’ve been a calligrapher for 25 years, I started in 1986 and initially wanted to make calligraphy equipment available for the public and professionals to buy, as it’s hard to find in Bahrain.
“My shop is in Isa Town market and I sell the different types of wooden quills and inks necessary for Arabic calligraphy.
“There are several types of scripts and the most difficult is known as thulath, but currently the most popular and what I think is beautiful is il-diwani script.
“Our work can be anything from BD20 for a wedding announcement to BD2,000 for a big piece of artwork.
“The equipment is affordable, though, ranging from 500 fils to BD2.5.”
The festival also features a set of musical and dance performances by folk bands that will take guests through a journey into the past, depicting the hardships men faced during the four-month pearling season and the role of women in sustaining a livelihood in their absence.
It is being held inside a tent at Bahrain National Museum and will run until April 21, from 4pm to 9pm.
Educational events and programmes for children are also available.
For more information, visit www.culture.gov.bh.