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Handicrafts & Artifacts

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Tourist Products
submitted by Turathuna Bethlehem University

The idea of manufacturing tourist products first appeared with the arrival of pilgrims from abroad, who frequently came to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem where Lord Jesus, the Messenger of love and peace, was born. Craftsmen invented the manufacture of rosaries from olive and palm stones. Tourists bought them and respectfully carried them to their countries as souvenirs of their visit. In addition, crosses, religious statues, boxes and other things were manufactured from olive wood.

Afterwards they began working with mother - of - pearl, an excellent medium for the development of their tourist industries. Over the years, they have developed their technique to an exquisite art.

Opinions differ as to when the mother - of - pearl industry started in Bethlehem. According to the Custody of the Holy Lands, the Franciscan Fathers brought skilful artists from Italy in the fifteenth century who worked in this craft; and the sons of Bethlehem learnt it and excelled in it.

Mother - of - pearl artifacts were first exhibited in the west at The World Fair in New York in 1852. Two brothers, Giries and Ibrahim Mansur, exhibited their work and were a great success. Jordan encouraged this industry by exhibiting mother -of - pearl artifacts in the Bruxelles and New York International Fairs. Factory owners extended their factories, developed them and introduced modern machines. Olive wood industry, technical embroidery and national costumes flourished.

Feast cards were manufactured decorated with dried colored leaves. From the black stones of Wadi Musa, small round boxes were made as well as ash-trays, vases and similar articles. There are also brass and silver ware industries which specialize in inscriptions and the manufacture of trays, jugs, pictures and other things. Many women sewed their colorful clothes by hand and vied with one another in embroidering the collars of garments and similar objects, especially regarding accuracy of work, the kinds of threads used and their colors, and particularly the kind of pretty drawings which were instantly extemporized during the embroidery process without any previous design.

Source:"Bethlehem, The Immortal Town" by Giries Elali

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