Iraq's Marsh Arabs in the Garden of Eden

By Edward L. Ochsenschlager | Go to book overview

4
MUD HOUSEHOLD UTENSILS AND
STORAGE CONTAINERS

Brought up on a farm in Illinois where mud was considered a serious impediment to plowing, planting, harvesting, and any kind of transportation, I was totally unprepared to discover the many important uses of mud in the villages around al-Hiba, where it was seemingly incorporated into every aspect of village life and domestic architecture. Its household uses ranged from pots and pans to containers for storing food to grinders for grinding grain. Drums and whistles were made of sun-dried mud as were toys and jewelry, and many houses were made out of mud laid up as walls in either sun-dried brick or pisé. Additional rooms built on the house, as well as leanto structures and sheds were also often made of mud. Mud walls often enclosed courtyards completely or in part, and inside the courtyard feed and watering troughs for livestock were frequently made of mud, as were bed platforms for sleeping outside when the weather grew hot and overbearing.

Women made cooking and heating devices, incense burners, containers, and devices for food processing and food protection out of mud. Occasionally men helped with gathering the material, but this was considered unusual. Mud objects were usually made in the summer, unless it was necessary to replace a recently broken mud artifact. A potter found it uncomfortable to work in the cold, rainy, winter season. Such weather made the clay difficult to work, and it prolonged the time needed for the clay to dry.

As a rule one woman in each dwelling unit makes vessels needed for her family. Occasionally the mother of the bride will make mud pottery for newlyweds. In most homes more than one woman has the skill necessary to make mud objects, but their manufacture is usually considered a job for middleaged or older women, freeing younger members of the household for the more

-45-

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Iraq's Marsh Arabs in the Garden of Eden
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface and Acknowledgments vii
  • 1 - In the Garden of Eden 1
  • 2 - The People of Al-Hiba 13
  • 3 - Ways and Means 34
  • 4 - Mud Household Utensils and Storage Containers 45
  • 5 - Mud Musical Instruments, Toys, Jewelry, and Ammunition 74
  • 6 - Mud Architecture and Ancillary Structures 95
  • 7 - Baked Pottery 111
  • 8 - Mats, Baskets, and Other Objects Made from Reeds and Rushes 129
  • 9 - Reed Architecture 145
  • 10 - Wood, Boats, and Bitumen 170
  • 11 - Bovine Husbandry 190
  • 12 - Sheep 203
  • 13 - Village Weavers 216
  • 14 - The Photographs of John Henry Haynes 251
  • 15 - Death under Glass 270
  • Index 281
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