April 09, 2010

Glass Blowers in Sarafand

We visited a glass-blower today. I know the Phoenicians did not discover/invent glass (The Sumerians did), but I understand they did have some hand in the development of glass-blowing.
I can’t find much research done on the topic though, so I am basically repeating what everyone else says. However, we did walk all over the Byzantine Necropolis in Tyre (Sour), and if you look very carefully between the stones and the gravel, there's literally hundreds of pieces of very thin (light blue) glass lying around. They’re very thin, too thin to belong to modern bottles, so blown glass must have been something of a regular thing in the old days.
'Glassblowing was invented by Syrian craftsmen in the area of Sidon, Aleppo, Hama, and Palmyra in the 1st century BC, where blown vessels for everyday and luxury use were produced commercially and exported to all parts of the Roman Empire.' Source 

'Glassblowing is a glass forming technique which was invented by the Phoenicians at approximately 50 B.C. somewhere along the Syro-Palestinian coast.'  Another source.

Sarafand apparently already had glass-glowing artisans in ancient times, but these days there’s only one left that I know of; the Khalife family. Their shop is right on Sarafand Main Street, while the workshop is in the back of the garden behind the store (on the old road between Sidon and Sour).
Business has been poor, they complain, ever since a new highway was opened which bypassed their shop. But their prices have changed quite a bit as well. A wine glass in 2005 cost 3,000 pounds, now they go for 8,000. Howerver, they are unique; they’re hand-blown, so not one glass is the same. Different height, different diameter, the colors are not quite the same, some are a little lob-sided, but that’s what makes them nice.
In the back you can watch them blow the glass. They do it out in the open, covered by a roof only. It seems that glass-blowing is not healthy for your lungs, according to this study, but we’re not exactly known for following proper safety procedures for many menial jobs in this place.
For more information, here’s an article on the Khalife glass-blowers.


angie nader said...

what a awesome thing to witness live. ive only ever seen others blow glass on tv.

Dalila Mahdawi said...

Love this shop!

Anonymous said...

I'm studying glass in this region, please e-mail me: alysiafischer@hotmail.com Thanks!

Georges said...

Hi, can we get a contact number for the Khalifeh Glass Blowing business? Thanks


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It is a fantastic and amazing work of art, these guys are just amazing in creativity.

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Dory asaf said...

Any contact details for this shop ?


rawad saliba said...

Kindly send me a contact number for khalife's shop,
thank you