Damascus: Palanquin Makers

Date: 1870s

Arabic: muḥāyirī.

Discussing the market in Damascus that sold good to those about to undertake the annual pilgrimage (ḥajj), Charles Doughty (d. 1926) writes about those engaging in making and repairing the palanquins that were placed over the backs of camels. See also: Carpenter; Maker of Felt.

Citation: Doughty, Charles, Travels in Arabia Deserta (London, 1888. Reprinted in one volume, New York: Random House, 1936), p. 41.

Damascus: Palanquin Makers

Date: c.1890-1906

Arabic: muḥāyirī

Palanquins were employed for journeys on camels, most importantly the annual pilgrimage (ḥajj) to Mecca. These wooden structures were made for the pilgrimage season and would then be draped with textiles. The textiles could be removed each evening of a journey and used for bedding. The two main types were the maḥāra (pl. maḥāʾir) and the shibriyya, the former being the more expensive and desirable. Outside the pilgrimage season the muḥāyirī made his living making packing cases for the export of dried apricots and qamr al-dīn (sheets made from pressed apricot). See also: Tent Maker (khaymī).

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), pp. 420-22 (chapter 341).

See also: Milwright, Marcus, “Trade and the Syrian Hajj between the 12th and the early 20th Centuries: Historical and archaeological Perspectives”, in Venetia Porter and Liana Saif, eds, The Hajj: Collected Essays, Research Publications 193 (London: British Museum Press, 2013), p. 33.