Adonis Diaries

Last of natural Silk weavers in Lebanon? Jeddo Albert Feghali

Posted on: August 4, 2013

Last of Silk makers in Lebanon?

Silk industry bloomed in Lebanon in the early 1900s. The factories in the city of Lyon (France) were the major importers of silk from Lebanon. Until about 1945, there were more than 100 silk factories across Lebanon. One of them was in Bsous, a village just 4 km from Jamhour. When the Asseily family bought the factory in 1965, they preserved the old machinery. And in 2001, they opened it to the public as the Silk Museum.

My hometown Beit-Chabab was one of main silk producers and weavers. The entire family members worked in silk at their homes. There many ancient vast and two-story kerkhaneh around my hometown where natural silk were produced and weaved, and they are being remodeled and transformed to other usage.

Back when silk was a profitable industry in Lebanon, the road to silk started with the import of silk-worm eggs. As the eggs hatch, larvae come out and start to eat mulberry leaves continuously for one month straight, growing to about 10 thousand times their initial size.

Once they finish eating, they spend 3 days making a cocoon out of the silk they produce. Lebanon used to import the eggs and farmers would feed the worms until the cocoon was made. The cocoons were then sent to the factories, where they would throw them in basins of boiling water. The heat makes the silk of the cocoon more supple and the thread then becomes untangled.  Four or five threads are joined to improve its thickness, which finally makes it a thread of silk.

Actually, it was the number of basins in a factory that measured its importance. Once the thread was made, they would send it back to France for weaving.

YASMINA  HATEM posted this July 12, 2013 on NOW

Meet Jeddo (grandpa) Albert. He is 82 years old and he welcomes people by cracking jokes. Standing in front of a traditional silk-weaving machine, he tells the story of how he came to work on it.

Albert Feghali, or Jeddo Albert as he likes to be called, has worked for the Asseily family for more than 50 years, in charge of putting together machinery in their factories.  When the Silk Museum opened and they received a traditional silk-weaving machine as a gift from France, the Asseilys asked Jeddo Albert to try and put it together. The rest is history.

Jeddo Albert not only put the machine together, but he also taught himself how to use it. Even at 82 years old, this dedicated man comes to the Museum almost every day and weaves about half a meter of silk. He has made all kinds of pillows and scarves for the museum shop, but most importantly, he is the only person in Lebanon who knows how to use this machine.

“It’s better than sitting at home,” he says. “I used to make 2 meters per day, but now I can’t anymore,” Albert explains. He says he is trying to teach younger people how to use the machine so that the craft doesn’t die with him, but Albert cautiously notes that “weaving requires a lot of patience.”

The Last of the Silk 1
The Last of the Silk 2
The Last of the Silk 3
The Last of the Silk 4
The Last of the Silk 5

From worms to silk, the process from the moment the eggs hatch until they cocoon.

Silk worms eating mulberry leaves. Cocooning. Cocoons in a basin of boiling water. A map of the silk factories that used to exist in Lebanon. Here you can see Bsous and the number of Basins in each factory. Silk threads of different colors after being dyed. The weaving machine. Jeddo Albert. One of Jeddo Albert’s silk pillows.

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August 2013

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