Damascus: Makers of Combs

Date: c.1890-1906

Arabic: mashīṭātī

The mashīṭātī produced cheap combs from apricot wood. The affordability of this item ensured a market both within and beyond the city, principally among less wealthy women. These craftsmen would also repair the broken teeth on the combs at a fixed price. Competition from imported combs reduced the viability of this craft in the late Ottoman period. Thus, the mashīṭātī were few in number and this craft was in decline.

Citation: al-Qasimi, Muhammad Saʿid, Jamal al-Din al-Qasimi, and Khalil al-ʿAzm (al-Azem), Dictionnaire des métiers damascains, ed., Zafer al-Qasimi. (Le Monde d’Outre-Mer passé et présent, Deuxième série, Documents III, Paris and Le Haye: Mouton and Co., 1960), p. 444 (chapter 367).
Also discussed in: Milwright, Marcus. “Wood and Woodworking in Late Ottoman Damascus: An Analysis of the Qāmūs al-Ṣināʿāt al-Shāmiyya”, Bulletin d’Etudes Orientales 61 (2012): pp. 556-57.