The Libyan metropolis of Gharyan sculpted a fame for ceramics generations in the past, however fragile demand is forcing potters to hunt new markets on Instagram and Fb.
Muayyad al-Shabani didn’t even begin out within the craft. He earned a physics diploma however struggled to discover a job in a rustic whose financial system has been battered by a decade of battle and instability for the reason that fall of dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
Then Shabani began, nearly by likelihood 4 years in the past, to promote ceramics on-line from Gharyan, excessive within the Nafousa mountains south of Tripoli.
Working out of a Gharyan workshop, his agency with round 10 workers takes orders instantly by means of devoted Fb and Instagram pages, packages every merchandise and despatches them world wide.
“First we tried to get ceramics delivered to Libyans dwelling abroad, within the UK, Germany, america, and it was an awesome success,” he mentioned.
“Then we began tackling the issues linked to move, like an absence of first rate packaging. So we invested in packaging machines.”
The 35-year-old mentioned he needs to stake out a nook on a market with no borders, and compete with merchandise made in China, Turkey and Libya’s neighbours.
However he is aware of potters in Gharyan face a aggressive drawback towards rivals from extra politically secure nations.
Potteries in Gharyan, a metropolis of 160,000 individuals, primarily stopped creating within the Nineteen Eighties and are struggling to maintain tempo with modernisation, he mentioned.
Companies throughout Libya face daunting logistical challenges and an archaic banking system – a problem Shabani overcomes by receiving fee by means of an account in Europe.
The cash is then withdrawn in money and delivered to retailers by hand.
At a neighbouring studio, Ali al-Zarqani want to transfer on-line however isn’t but outfitted to take action and struggles to achieve his markets.
Each morning he heads to the household’s workshop within the centre of city.
The street is lined with outlets promoting a variety of pottery creations – dishes, jugs, pitchers, tajines and flower pots, enamelled and hand-decorated with conventional designs.
Some show lots of of earthenware jugs, used for storing olive oil or cool ingesting water within the baking Libyan summers.
‘A part of our identification’
Zarqani, 47, realized the craft from his father 1 / 4 of a century in the past.
He begins by crushing and sieving clay-rich earth then kneading it to make it simpler to sculpt, earlier than effectively crafting every bit on his wheel then leaving it to dry for as much as 12 hours.
As soon as adorned with pure pigments, the piece is then baked at greater than 1,000 levels Celsius (1,832 Fahrenheit) in an electrical kiln.
“There’s an absence of primary supplies, which now we have to import at excessive costs, and there are additionally few staff due to an absence of craft colleges,” mentioned Zarqani.
“And furthermore, demand isn’t secure.”
Nonetheless, he hopes “the brand new technology will take over” to safeguard this “hyperlink to our land.”
Shabani, along with his on-line enterprise, is a part of that new period and has discovered methods across the challenges which have left Gharyan’s once-prosperous potteries struggling.
He plans to maintain increasing.
“Ceramics are a part of our identification,” Zarqani mentioned. “We’re hooked up to it as a result of it represents the identification of Libya.”