Cane was being used for household items in India and China by around 200 AD. The use of bent-wood or canes became popular in the West in the nineteenth century.
The craft was introduced to Palestine during the British Mandate period (1920-1948), wicker furniture being fashionable at the time.
The British set up schools (such as Dar El Eitam for orphans) in Jaffa and Jerusalem, teaching the manufacture of rattan and wickerwork furniture. NGO’s in Gaza still run schools teaching the skills of this craft. The UNRWA Rehabilitation Center for the visually Impaired teaches a wide range of skills to partially sighted people, including cane furniture and basketwork.
The Oldest family name in Gaza in this business is Khalah. The trade has been introduced into Gaza in the 1950’s by reugees from the 1948 conflict. Furniture is sold in “sets”, a standard set of lounge furniture seating seven or nine. Most manufacturers also produce wooden furniture, and some make steel furniture, both with cane or wickerwork decoration. Other popular items are bookshelves, office furniture, cupboards, tables of all sizes, dining suites, and wardrobes, all in a wide range of formal or informal styles, or made to personal design or specification.
Cane is imported by local wholesale, from Asia, where it grows extremely quickly in the rain- forests. Some of the manufactures have tried importing themselves directly but find the quality control better from the bulk importer. There are two basic types, known as “ Mallacca” (jointed cane, natural) and “ Rattan” which has the outer layer peeled off to leave a smooth pale surface without joints or color variations.
Working techniques have not changed except for the introduction of the mechanical staple gun. Seat cushions are made using imported or locally made foam and imported cloth coverings, of which many varieties, colors and textures are available. When a new style is being designed, three or four samples will be made to test variations on the initial arrangement.
Guide to Crafts In Gaza.
Added By: Arch. Lina A. AbuHamra.