‘Craft’ is known also as artisanal handicraft, a type of work where useful and decorative devices are made completely by hand or by using only simple tools.
Traditional Lebanese handicrafts are considered to be a major sector of the living cultural heritage in the rural areas of Lebanon. Transmitted from one generation to another, traditional rural Lebanese handicrafts have been able to persist from the Phoenician and Roman periods until the present day. Rural regions have particular focus when talking about traditional handicrafts because of their rich tangible and intangible cultural heritage. When resources were limited and scarce, rural communities had nothing but to sustain their heritage and integrate handicrafts into their daily life. For rural communities, traditional handicrafts are considered an art of living; craftsmen use local materials to create objects for practical, everyday use. The cultural and historical significance of handicrafts creates a sense of pride among artisans and people living in the rural areas of Lebanon.
The handicrafts produced by artisans working in rural areas in Lebanon are unique since artisans use a mix of old production methods and modern techniques. The latter was developed and maintained by local artisans in the rural regions of Lebanon to incorporate handicrafts into modern life as well as to allow for more variations.
BEIT honours the giant, La Maison de l’Artisan (the House of the Artisan), a gallery created by the Lebanese architect Pierre Neema in 1963, in collaboration with the architect Jacques Aractingi and the engineer Joseph Nassar.
A building which, at the time, made people dream, because it was a symbol of art, beauty and modernism with respect for oriental culture and heritage. In order to give the building a “character of Lebanese inspiration” arched columns supported the flat roof. This project was “a clever evocation of tradition”. With a subtle suggestion of the familiar arch, the design resolved the paradox of compliance with the wishes of the CEGP (Conseil Exécutif des Grands Projets) to have a “Lebanese” building, yet allow for maximum transparency, lightness and polyvalence of exhibition space, all modernist attributes.
Colourful glass on display in Ain El Mraisseh, 1974.
The interior of La Maison de l’Artisan in 1963.
Architectural Drawings from la Maison de l’Artisan, highlighting the traditional Lebanese Arches.