What About The Old Lebanese Basket?

by Jana Kayssi

Around Beirut’s tight streets, and on the walls of its old dusty buildings, are silent stories a lot have heard of, yet few still live.

My name is Jana, and I am here to tell you a story that our dear Beirut has held close to heart. A story that has visited a lot of cities, a lot of houses, and a lot of streets. A symbol of culture, practicality, art, and sustainability.

When we were kids wandering around the streets, we often saw people on their balconies, frowning away the harsh sun rays, and screaming to their neighbors on the street. Amidst the busy sounds of the city, the honks, the screams, the curious elderly eyes following everything and everyone, were floating baskets lightly taking peaks inside houses.

Originally, it was Amchit, a town located in the Byblos district, that was inspired by Southern Iraq in the 19th century, and skillfully started weaving baskets to help transport fruits and legumes in and out of farms. Marwa, upcoming visual artist, believes that the elements that constitute the art of weaving are heavily elements of sustainability: "it's a way of connecting to the plants that surround us: we take them in our hands, smell them, and make something useful and beautiful from them, and so keep them with us.”

Lebanese families have always used woven baskets to facilitate receiving and delivering processes. Want some tomatoes? Dangle your basket and the greengrocer will indeed fill it for you! Is your neighbor out of sugar? Well, send them some in that beautiful shiny basket of yours! The basket was the ultimate solution!

It seemed so simple and fun, so the team and I at Luanatic decided to re-create the experience! Well... Here are some learnings: dangling is not an easy task! In fact, basket dangling can serve as your daily arm workout! who knew? Go grandmas! And here’s a tip that you will want to remember: choose your rope critically. Just saying.

You also should know that as nostalgic useful things, baskets are making a strong comeback in the modern scene on the hands of young designers eager to dig into their heritage and country’s culture. As beautifully put by Marwa: “I think it's coming back slowly, especially with the growing eco-consciousness which generates a growing sense of disillusionment in the power of science.” 

With that, Marwa also revealed a new form of therapy, one that fulfills the soul and strengthens the mind in light of a pretty drastic city life. The artist has added her own touch and splint of life to baskets, bringing an interesting and lively image to the element. Fortunately for you and us, Marwa regularly offers workshops around basket weaving and fiber harvesting techniques.

You can also find some baskets to pick up from the old roads of Saida, Sour, and Amchit.

If this smelly mixture of woven speaks to the kid in you as it does us, find our Salleh designs here!