Damascus: Sawyers

Date: c. 1890-1906

Arabic: nashshār

The sawyer prepares and cuts wood planks of various dimensions and types. Walnut, willow, and white poplar where some of the type of trees used in wood working in this area. Two sawyers would work using a wooden scaffold (saqāla) and a large steel saw (minshār). The nashshār often worked in close proximity to wood suppliers (ḥawāṣilī) who operated warehouses that sold wood and tools needed by woodworkers. The area which these groups would be found in Damascus was known as the “warehouse area” (ḥawāṣiliyya). The nashshār also moved around villages, sawing wood according to the needs of the population there. It was considered an activity that reaped a middling wage (ujra). See also: Carpenter (najjār), Wood turner (kharrāṭ).

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. 481-82 (chapter 412).
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. 551-52.

Damascus: Sawyers

Date: August 1938

Photographer John D. Whiting (d. 1951), who also worked as a tour guide, documents two men hand sawing logs into planks. The long saw is employed vertically with one man on the ground and the other standing on the plank. See also: Carpenter; Wood Cutter.

Citation: Whiting, J. D. & Matson, G. E., photographer. (1938) Diary in Photos, vol. IV, 1938. [Online Text] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2007675264/ (last consulted: 13 February 2017).