Nablus – Oddities and Crudities

Nablus was such a wonderful and amazing place to visit that I came back with lots of photos of unusual sights and images.  This post highlights a few of the things that make Nablus such a different place.  I start with some images from the past. History is never far away in Nablus and Nabulsis seem to take a particular interest in collecting and storing items from their history.  First up is what looks like a very old HMV speaker, which was on display in the foyer of our hotel.  Then a relic from the time of British rule in Palestine – a box box in a wall.  Finally a really strange item, a poster welcoming people to Palestine.  What makes this poster particularly interesting is the use of Palestine as the name for the country.  For the original of this poster was produced in 1936 by a Jewish organisation to encourage Jews from Europe to come to Palestine.  No Israel then!

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Politics and the effects of the Occupation is something else that is never far away in Nablus.  And aspects of this found visual expression in strange and unexpected ways.   We came across the first image below at a shop in the grounds of An-Najah university.  Creativity and a sense of humour is alive and kicking in Palestine.  The second photo is of a couple of old door panels that have been decorated as part of an art course.  The final photo is of an election poster, probably from Ramallah, during the recent local elections in Palestine.

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Coming from Scotland, one of the most obvious visual differences is the attire of women.  Fashion is just as important to women in Nablus as it is anywhere else in the world.  As could be seen by the rows and rows of mannequins displaying dresses and other items of clothing.  What was particularly strange was that many of these displays showed dresses, skirts, blouses that were nowhere to be seen on actual women in the streets.  Presumably they wear them in the privacy of their homes or at special parties.  The first photo below shows a row of dresses which might be seen, but only over trousers.  Headscarves though not obligatory were worn by most of the women we saw and met.  There is an enormous range of headscarves to choose from in terms of colour and patterns, as can be seen in the second photo which features Jess, minus her headscarf.  Men’s clothing showed nothing like the variety of styles available to women.  Though there were plenty of suits and the ubiquitous jeans on display everywhere.  Sadly we came across a few damaged male mannequins as in the final photo in this sequence.  Perhaps a fitting image for Palestine as a whole.

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Celebrations is something they do in spectacular style in Nablus.  Little expense is spared for special events such as a wedding.  We did not alas attend any such celebrations, but we did come across the preparations for a wedding party in one of the main hotels.  The next two photos show what awaits the happy couple as they arrive to meet the assembled guests.  First the stairwayed entrance and then the sumptuous sofa on which they will sit to greet their guests.  All this looks wonderful, but remember that all you will get to help celebrate the bridal pair will be a selection of soft drinks and water.

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I end this essay on images from Nablus with three taken on the Sama Nablus park which dominates the city from one of the surrounding hillsides.  We visited this lovely site with some of our new Nabulsi friends for an open air picnic one evening.  As the darkness descended we explored the park a little and came across a cave which has been cut deep into the hillside from what used to be a local quarry.  The first photo is taken from just inside the edge of the cave looking outwards to the very black sky.  The rocks here were amazing.  Not far from this cave we had the great and pleasant surprise to come across this splendid camel, which was giving rides to young children.  Finally a shot of a rosy moon taken from the hillside.  Even the moon looks different in Nablus.

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One thought on “Nablus – Oddities and Crudities

  1. I really enjoy your posts about Nablus, not an area that gets enough positive coverage and it’s particularly good to hear about the lives of real people. On a more frivolous topic though, I do love those scarves – I’m a real scarf junkie – just ask my children – if you go again, pick up a load and send them south!

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