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Silk production in Lebanon is almost extinct and is now part of heritage


Silk production can be a profitable industry, yet artisans and crafters in the field are very rare, including one or two loom workers operating in the old Zouk souk east of Beirut. Resolved on preserving cultural traditions, the Municipality of Zouk has been providing the necessary facilities and encouraging the remaining small number of artisans to save their heritage. Zouk ‘Souks’ are famous for their extravagance and exorbitant prices due to the slenderness of manual work and silk embroidery. A member of the municipal court boasts the annual festival organized in the old market to feature this now dwindling artistry. The municipality of Zouk, he said, is determined to sustain the hand loom which has become symbolic of the Old ‘Souk’. To be noted that “silk bureau” was closed 15 years ago, according to As Safir newspaper which published an article on this subject last year (click here for more info.), thus ending with this closure the era of silk production in Lebanon. Michel Leon, the last general director of the “silk bureau”, noted that turning the page on silk production in Lebanon was a non recoverable loss adding that this sector did not put any additional burden on the treasury but rather would have secured economic income as well as social advantages in terms of income for rural families as well as traditional handicrafts. Leon noted that the silk bureau was created back in 1956 and played a distinct role in agriculture, industry and development, stressing that it was the first independent institution in Lebanon. Leon went on to elaborate that this sector is not very demanding and can create jobs for rural people, hence stop the tide of migration to cities. He also emphasized that raising silkworms takes only one month and would have absorbed masked unemployment especially amongst women, retired people as well as other sections of the population. (Al Diyar, 25 June 2015 and As Safir, 18 October 2014)

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