Reviving Mat production in Jisr a- zarka
Jisr a- zarka is a village located by the sea near Caesarea. But this was not the original place of the forefathers and foremothers of the village. They lived by the swamps of Kabara, in houses that were made from mats that were made from the water plants of the swamps. They were herding buffalo, weaving straw mats from the reeds, fishing for fish and maintained what I call :"Swamp-Culture".
This was a way of life that was connected to the special natural conditions of their enviroment.
In 1922 Baron de Rothschild's PICA (Palestine Jewish Colonization Association ) received a license from the British government to drain the swamp for the sake of converting it to agricultural land for Jewish settelments. The Arabs who were the people of the swamp were the workers who drained the swamps from which they scratched their livelihood, and then were moved to the location where Jisr a- zarka is today. The elders continued to weave mats in their new location, but after drying the swamps and building the Jewish settlements around, the water plants became rare and difficult to get, and since the Taninim Stream Nature Reserve was opened on the northern part of the village's lands it is forbidden to cut them there.
The project's aim is to conserve the knowledge of how to weave the mats that were once
a source of income to the village's ancestors, and to make it again a source of income and pride for the women of Jisr. The project was initiated and supported by the INPA.
After mapping the village for old people who remember something from the mats production, and also finding women who want to learn how to weave, we will have some lessons, based on the knowledge I've gathered from Arabs in the area of Acca, who used to produce the same kind of mats. The idea is for those women who will learn - to demonstrate the work to visitors of the nature reserve, and also to bring visitors to the village.
Um Dib from the village of Damun teachs me to weave
To read more about Jisr a- Zarka: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/a-classic-zionist-story-1.295418