Pottery has been an important part of Lebanese life and culture since the Phoenician era with generations of craftsmen keeping this ancient tradition alive.
But, although this craft is declining in popularity, one artisan in the northern city of Tripoli, continues to make pottery the traditional way with great love and pride.
In his small modest shop, Georges Alaylo, works long hours designing and making earthenware pottery intended for everyday use in the kitchen and house.
Alaylo learned this craft from his father and grandfather when he was he young and took over the business at an early age.
“I was born into this profession; I inherited it from my father and grandfather. This factory, right here, where you’re filming, has been inherited, it’s hundreds of years old,” Alaylo told Reuters.
But despite love for his profession, Alaylo says he has found it hard to teach his sons as it’s a difficult skill which he says takes a long time to perfect.
“Pottery making is in decline, and when there is no work in the factory and the father is not working, then they [the children] can’t learn the profession. The work has to be continuous so they can learn, they come here to learn sometimes, but 15 minutes, half an hour, an hour or even two of working is not enough,” explained Alaylo.
“This profession is a traditional craft and requires working from dawn to sunset, from morning to night, it needs long hours so one can learn it,” he said.
Alaylo says most people nowadays prefer cooking utensils made from modern materials rather than the traditional earthenware.
“For the past 10 years, pottery making has been in decline because there is no market for it, people have developed more, they are now buying ‘Tefal’ or stainless steel and brands like that, they kind of have forgotten about pottery.”
The use of pottery glazed with olive-oil in Lebanese kitchens has decreased with people opting for modern brands of kitchen utensils featuring non-stick surfaces.
But, Alaylo says he is passionate about his pottery and will continue to do his best to make a living in the same way his father and his grandfather did.