Palestinian Mohammad Hussein works at his home in the village of A'nin, close to the northern West Bank town of Jenin, Jan. 14, 2020. The main job of Mohammad Hussein, a Palestinian elder man from the West Bank, is to carve wood into simple farming tools and other wooden artworks to protect the ancient Palestinian heritage from disappearance. (Photo by Nidal Eshtayeh/Xinhua)
by Saud Abu Ramadan, Mohammed Abu Alrob
RAMALLAH, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- The main job of Mohammad Hussein, a Palestinian elder man from the West Bank, is to carve wood into simple farming tools and other wooden artworks to protect the ancient Palestinian heritage from disappearance.
At his home in the village of A'nin, close to the northern West Bank town of Jenin, Hussein, who is over 90 years old, carves wood into beautiful masterpieces with a short metal woodcarving tool and a hammer.
Hussein, suffering from trembling hands due to his old age, manages to carve wood with his small hammer and a sculpting tool. He gently and slowly hammers on his metal carving tool to avoid breaking the piece of wood.
The elder man makes his own designs and then carves the wood into primitive wooden tools that Palestinian farmers had used so many years ago, such as plows and pitchforks.
He carves and sculpts the wood, which he gets from various kinds of trees in the village, and spends all his daytime turning it into primitive agricultural tools, flowers vases and other wooden masterpieces.
"My father and grandfather had worked as carpenters a long time ago, so I developed my skills in carpentry and invested it into carving and sculpturing. I learned how to turn wood into beautiful wooden masterpieces and old farming tools," Hussein told Xinhua.
The elder man has himself produced around 100 different wooden pieces, including artworks and old farming tools. He has turned his humble home into a workshop, where he plans, designs and implements his ideas.
He does this job alone without the help of anyone and refuses to sell what he carves, except some tools that haven't taken him a long time to make, especially sticks for axes, shovels and hammers.
"I don't sell my special wooden products that had taken me a long time to carve such as special wooden masterpieces, mainly wooden statues, vases and more," said Hussein, who collects wood from a nearby farm.
The farm in the village of A'nin is around 70 dunums (70,000 square meters) and it is full of various kinds of trees, mainly olives. Hussein selects and collects certain kinds of dry wood that fit for carving his wooden products.
"I usually carve something related to the ancient Palestinian heritage, mainly farming tools that our ancestors had used in farming a long time ago, such as plows, wooden stoves, pitchforks, and flower vases," said the old man.
After finishing his carving, Hussein paints his products with a special kind of colorful painting that protects them from being damaged or spoiled by water or humidity. He makes it looking attractive and beautiful.
He uses simple and primitive tools in carving, which are neither modern nor electric, except an electric digger that he uses sometimes in carving into rigid wooden pieces.
Hussein has 12 children. However, none of them are practicing their father's career. They are married, have children and have jobs that are different from their father's job.
Hussein's handmade products have attracted several local institutions and organizations in the village, which helped Hussein to organize an exhibition for his products at one of the village's schools.
His exhibition attracted so many people who were impressed by the kind of art he is making, mainly by his principle of preserving the ancient Palestinian heritage for the young Palestinian generations.
Hussein is not the only one who carves wood into various shapes, masterpieces and ancient agricultural tools, there are so many Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza producing artworks, masterpieces and statues made of wood, metal and clay with various kinds of raw materials.
Atef Abu Saif, culture minister of the Palestinian Authority, told Xinhua that Palestinian handmade products have been always linked to true history and to the fact that the Palestinian people are sticking to their identity, their land and their true heritage.
"The handmade products, which are made of wood, glass, cloths or clay in various geographical areas in Palestine, always reflect the Palestinians sticking to their land," he said.
Abu Saif said that his ministry encourages people like Hussein and so many other artists to carry on producing their handmade products.
"I believe it is a holy mission of the ministry to keep our loyalty to our homemade products," he added.
"The conflict between the Palestinian people and the occupation (Israel) is related to land, identity and history. So all our heritage is an interpretation of the relationship between our people and their land that they belong to," the minister noted.