Damascus: Lid Makers (for protecting food)

Arabic: mikabbātī

Date: c.1890-1906

The maker of lids worked with willow branches and reeds, which were soaked to generate flexibility for plaiting. These artisans would travel through the marketplace and streets of Damascus to sell their wickerwork by shouting “al-mikabbāt. The people engaged in this activity were mainly “poor Kurds and fellahin” who were able to make a living from the profits of selling their wares. During the late Ottoman period, however, the demand for the food protecting lids declined in favour of wooden fridge cabinets made by the carpenter (najjār). See also: Carpenter (najjār), Basket maker (sallāl).

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. 468 (chapter 392).
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): p. 558.