After visiting places of historic interest in and around Manama, it was time to delve into some cultural aspects.
Bahrain’s rich cultural heritage can be seen through various lenses. Though history and cuisine too fall under Culture in a broader sense, I chose to visit the Al Jasra Handicraft Centre, which displays the country’s indigenous art forms and creations. It was established in 1990. The best artists of the country are brought under one institution, to display their skills and pass theirs to the next generation.
The centre’s website explains its focus and goals.
The center embraces many traditional handicrafts, in order to achieve the following objectives:
- Maintaining traditional crafts and industries from extinction, in light of the steady growth in the world of automated industries.
- Educating Bahraini youth, and giving them the opportunity to explore industries and crafts that were practiced by their ancestors.
- Highlighting the traditional industries and handicrafts as an interface of the country, where foreigners visitors can learn more about our great past.
- Encouraging the craftsman and artisans, urging them to continue working in this distinctive field which requires major effort, and precise skills, by providing support to ensure the development of this industry while maintaining the original characteristics of the Bahraini products.
To me, this is the need of the hour for any society, especially societies where modern life style has become synonymous to neglecting the traditional past.
Additionally, what I learn from their website is-
Each village or town in the island has become known for a particular crafts such as the textile industry in Bani Jamrah village, basket weaving in Karbabad village, pottery in Ali village and AlSaffah in Jassrah village, while Manama and Muharraq cities are famous for vessel industry and related tools. http://www.btea.bh/bah-handcrafts
Al Jasra Handicraft Centre has different rooms for different crafts. It is not only a display or an exhibition house, but also a place where workshops are conducted. Tourists and visitors are given patient explanations on the specific art work. When we went there, we could find young students learning the beautiful craft forms, from experts.
Here are a few hand made wonders by specialist artists of Bahrain…
The metal chests with intricate carvings were beautiful.
Basket weaving is a traditional handcraft, with the abundantly available native palm leaves. Apart from baskets, there were more innovative pieces made too.
Ship building is like a life-line expertise, as far as Bahrain is concerned. Fishing and Pearl Fishery, being two of the foremost occupations, Ship building is an integral part of Bahrain’s traditional livelihood.
The textile village Bani-Jamrah in central Bahrain, is known for its traditional cloth weaving.
This place was mesmerising. The artisan Mr. Ali Abdulhusain, a very patient personality, explained his art. Though, we didn’t follow each other’s language, art didn’t need communication through language. His craft revives Bahrain’s medieval heritage. Now, we know that, the patience that he exhibits, is transformed into such fascinating pieces.
Pieces of gypsum art pieces, ready to be given colour
the artist and his art
transformation from paper to gypsum
and the piece of art…
The video below shows, how much hard work and muscle power goes into making the clay pliable for different articles.
Incredible Artistry in those hands – the making of a pot…
Such delicate craftsmanship – Removing the pot from the place of making
The great respect and adoration that I always had, for those craftsmen and their craft, seems to have grown multi-fold in my heart. The ingenuity and expertise that dwell in their humble personalities, deserve a higher and bigger adulation in this world of worldly pleasures.