Lebanon has a rich history dating back to the ancestors of this land, the Phoenicians, who were exceptional innovators, artists, and traders across the Mediterranean.
From the Phoenician civilization to the influence of foreign empires that had dominated our land, vestiges of these craftsmanships are still notable across the country.
Most importantly, today, are those that have been passed down from generation to generation and that are keeping the Lebanese Artistic Heritage alive, producing fascinating handmade craftworks.
Here are the most notable ones:
#1 The Art of Carpet Weaving
Carpet weaving is a fascinating art that uses wool or silk, or a combination of both, to create stunning carpets that warm and embellish homes, and would last for ages.
This ancient craftsmanship is still well alive in Lebanon, especially in the Bekaa valley where many skillful women continue to weave carpets and rugs by hand, using old tools, and the know-how learned in their families.
For centuries, the Lebanese people have been handcrafting cutlery and silverware that are timeless in beauty and elegance. This craftsmanship can be seen in many areas of Lebanon, notably in Jezzine from the 18th century.
Marzipan is a traditional Lebanese dessert made from almond paste and traditionally shaped like flowers.
#6 Pottery Craftmanship
Pottery craftmanship in Lebanon goes far back in time to the Phoenician civilization where the production of olive oil and wine was stored in tall pottery jars, and also the Arak. The craftsmanship included the production of platters, water jars, wine goblets, coffee cups, and more.
Basket making is a very old handcraft made from palm leaves. It started in Lebanese villages centuries ago to hold the harvests of fruits and vegetables, and many other usages at home.
Worth noting that while these natural handmade baskets have been largely replaced in our homes by commercial ones of processed metal and plastic, the traditional Lebanese ones are healthier to use.
You can still find basket weaving in areas near Jbeil and Amchit, as well as in Tripoli.
#8 The Art of Straw Chair Weaving
The art of chair making by handweaving palms and straws is a mesmerizing yet intensive-work craft. For centuries, the traditional straw weaved chairs in their various forms were part of all Lebanese homes.
Mosaic craftmanship in Lebanon goes back to the Byzantine period where mosaic floors became essential in interior decoration and sacral spaces. Remnants of such were discovered in several parts of Lebanon, notably in Jiyeh.
Since that period, mosaic art became part of the artistic culture of the locals, prominent in many Lebanese architectures as well as furniture, murals, and ornamental items.
While it is not as spread as in the past, we can still find Lebanese artisans creating these mesmerizing pieces, even on-demand. In recent years, there have been works to revive this ancient craft that is part of Lebanon’s artistic heritage.
The art of embroidery, using gold threads and beads of different shapes, continues to weave its way through the generations, embellishing garments and traditional Lebanese Abayas, as well tapestries and more.
Floral and other patterns are delicately woven with focus and precision to create beautiful pieces that last generations. Lebanese fashion designers also implement that art into their evening collections.
The exquisite art of iconography goes back to the Byzantine era and is believed to have been introduced to Lebanon’s artistic culture by the Orthodox Church.
It is a religious art that requires delicate precision and traditional procedures and rules where every color has a purpose and every fine detail a spiritual meaning.
Icons are very popular in Lebanon and are treated with veneration. Ancient and new decorate churches across the country. They are seen in many homes in the country, and some are passionate collectors of old and rare ones.
The craftsmanship of leather goods has evolved with time and remains part of Lebanon’s artistic heritage. Lebanese leather artisans have been creating elegant custom-made leather goods of all kinds and patterns that are a delight to the eyes.
The rich artistic heritage of carving stone goes back to ancient times where statues were created for deities, mythologies, and rulers but also to immortalize living beauty, and temple stones were finely carved in intricate congruous patterns.
Phoenician stone sculptures that have survived times speak of the antiquity of that craftsmanship in our land, such as the sarcophagus of King Ahiram of Byblos C13th-12th Century BCE), the torso from Sarafand( 6th century BCE), and many others one can admire in the National Museum of Beirut.
Delicate and elegant plastered elements can be seen in Lebanon’s heritage houses across the country, centering the ceilings where chandeliers lit the rooms and also bordering the top of the walls with intricate designs.
For centuries, plastering was an essential element in interior design as well as exterior in patios and external walls. That can still be seen across the country, all handmade.
And the legacy continues thanks to Lebanese artisans keeping it alive.
The Lebanese craftsmanship of bronze casting and molding goes back to the Phoenician civilization. According to World History, “Phoenician artists were known in antiquity for their fine metalwork.” The famous Phoenician Bronze Figurines are an example of that.
As recorded by History, King Solomon employed the craftsmanship of the Phoenician Hiram of Tyre to create two huge decorated bronze pillars for his temple in Jerusalem as well as some other bronze artwork.