Mehbash craftsman laments ‘lost heritage’

craftsman Ayesh Alshorma
Right:Some of craftsman Ayesh Alshorman’s Mehbashes, a traditional Jordanian coffee grinder. (Photos: Handout from Ayesh Alshorman) Left: Jordanian craftsman Ayesh Alshorman poses with a fully operating plane, he made in cooperation with aviation engineering students. (Photo: Handout from Ayesh Alshorman)
AMMAN — “I started to work in traditional handicrafts when I was in high school in the year 1980,” Ayesh Alshorman, a traditional craftsman from Al-Mazar Al-Shamali in Irbid, said in an interview with Jordan News.اضافة اعلان

“My father was very interested in the mehbash [traditional Jordanian coffee grinder], but he did not make them. Some carpenters used to make them, and my father would buy it at a high price; it was very expensive compared to our income.”

So the young craftsman learned to make the coffee grinder, alongside other traditional crafts, himself. “I had a hobby of making handicrafts such as the mehbash, lanterns, vases, and other handicrafts,” Alshorman explained. “It wasn’t easy obtaining wood and obtaining the necessary equipment for making wood [crafts] because of its high prices.” 

Besides carving the iconic wooden mehbash, Alshorman also crafts models of Jordan’s landmarks, such as the columns of Jerash and Petra, as well as wooden swords, guns, and plates.

One mehbash takes Alshorman 72 hours to make, he said.

His work has developed since he began some 40 years ago; today he uses a lathe to craft his pieces, one of which he made himself.

 “Woods of all kinds, such as oak, eucalyptus, and carob, are the raw materials used in making my pieces,” he explained. 

“The demand for traditional handicrafts from 1980 to 2009 was excellent, people were interested in traditional crafts, especially when Jerash Festival was being held, among other important heritage events.”

The Jerash Festival for Culture and Arts is an annually-held event held in the northern Jerash Governorate since the 80s, featuring artists, musicians, performers and other cultural activities.

“After that, interest in these heritage industries declined because of the living conditions,” he went on.

“The price of a mehbash ranges from JD100 to JD450,” the craftsman said. “I’ve also had customers from the Gulf countries, and my products have reached America and Britain.” He added proudly.

Alshorman also hopes to start training students in his art form. 

“In addition to the handicrafts, I have been cooperating with university students to work on research projects, where I give lectures on how to make the mehbash in some universities to help students in writing their research,” he said.

Alshorman also made a model of a plane for the aviation engineering major at the Jordan University of Science and Technology. “A group of students came to me to make a model of the plane so that it could be operated and take off successfully.” 

Alshorman said, “They also brought me the engine and the plane’s remote control, and we worked to make sure the weight of the plane was appropriate for the engine to work; the process succeeded because we made the plane from light and durable wood.”   

He emphasized the importance of continuing to support these long-standing cultural art forms. 

“If the situation remains the way it is now, we will lose this heritage, and the government must pay attention to this heritage before it disappears forever.”

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