The way of the Druze

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September 7, 2014
Chouf, Lebanon

The Druze are a small, but influential religious tribe spread across the Levant. Known for their bravery and secrecy, they made headlines recently as one of their own, Amal Alamuddin, married George Clooney.

Transterra Media travels deep into the mountains of Lebanon, to the Druze stronghold known as the "Chouf", where a local festival celebrating Druze traditions is underway.

(02:27) Woman 1: Everyone who has an orchard is working on producing jams and dried fruits so they can sell it. Here you can find cooked/dried figs, honey, homemade eggplant pickles, labneh, kaak and some bakeries.. All of these are made in our farms (03: 17)

(03:18) Contributor: Are all these products local? Or you get some products from other villages? (03:21)

(03:22) Woman 1: We have both. we really thank the municipality and the whole village for organizing such an event to promote our products. (03:36)

(03:37) Contributor: Is it true that the people who live in villages are more attached to their homelands than those who live in the cities? (03:42)

(03:42) Woman 1: At first, they weren't really attached, but now you see the young generations taking care of their lands more and more. (03:47)

(03:48) Contributor: Why do you think this is happening in your opinion? (03:49)

(03:49) Mainly because of the price rising in the market, and because of the disease outbreaks that are happening. When a person eats from his own products, he knows what were used to help grow these plants (04:17).

(04:18) Contributor: What is the best memory you have from your childhood in the village here? (04:25)

(04:26) Woman 1: I wish the good old days come back. We lived in peace, everybody was friendly, we used to eat healthy food, we lived like a united community; we all worked together and helped together in baking bread. I really wish these days come back (04:57).

(04:58) Contributor: How attached to traditions the people in the villages are? (05:00).

(05:02) Woman 1: Traditions are disappearing little by little, although some villages still wear the traditional outfit (Cherwal), and other villages are strongly attached to their traditions (05:20).

(05:21) Contributor: Where do you come from? (05:23).

(05:23) Woman 1: I come from Baakline, we still have some traditions in my village. We are all united hand by hand in the Chouf Region. (05:38).

(05:39) Contributor: Did you hear about the story of a young lady from Baakline is getting married to a famous actor? What do you think? (03:44).

(05:45) Woman 1: Yeah I heard about it, it’s really her personal matter, she is free to choose what she wants. But why not, we have no problem (05:58)

(05:59) Contributor: If your daughter told you she loved someone from another region, would you accept? (06:08)

(06:09) Woman 1: If she loves him and she’s happy with him, I can do nothing about it, she is old and wise to choose what she wants (06:20)

(07:10) Woman 2: These are all hand made by local old housewives. We believe that these crafts are disappearing slowly because of the existence of large factories now. This is really bad, since it’s the only income for the old housewives. We really hope they support these women in their production. Other than the women, let’s think of the handicapped girls who can't get out of their houses (07:55)

(07:56) This can be framed and hang on the wall. As for this white one, it is made for dining tables. As for this small one, it is used for trays and it comes in different designs. All of these you see here are handmade (08:47).

(09:54) Woman 3: (00:09) Woman 2: This is hand made; it’s made out of wool. It takes around 1 month to finish it and it is usually done by the women here. This is a dress for a baby; we still prefer to give a gift that is hand made. This is made out of wool for winter times and it takes around 20 days to finish it. You can find a big variety of items here. They still love to work in crafts in the villages. I made this tablecloth. These are hand made head covers, that are used to funerals mainly and they come in different designs. Most of the women work in these designs, including embroiders like this one (11:37).

(11:37) Contributor: Contributor: Do you think they are still attached to their traditions? (11:40).

(11:40) Woman 3: Of course, you always find people who don't know how valuable this work is, they demand a lot of work, around 1 month. Alhamdulillah on the other hand you still find people who are interested in them and order them, mostly in the villages (11:58).

(11:58) Contributor: Do you think they are still attached to traditional cloths? (12:02)

(12:02) Woman 3: You always find people who want to buy these work because it valuable, and it’s still widely used in the villages (12:26).

(12:27) Contributor: Do you think the people here are still attached to their lands more than before? (12:31)

(12:32) Woman 3: Yes of course, thanks to the exhibitions that are taking place and the organizers’ interest in showing the traditional designs (12:46).

(12:47) Contributor: What do they wear in traditional weddings? (12:52)

(12:53) Woman 3: During the weddings they usually wear whatever they want, but traditionally, the women wear a black dress with this hand made white headcover (13:04). (13:05) Contributor: I think you heard about a Durze girl who is getting married to a famous actor here, George Clooney if you know him (13:19)

(13:20) Woman 2: Oh really? Why not? Where is she? Tell her to come buy a headscarf from my collection (13:27).

(13:28) Contributor: Do you want to send her the headscarf as a wedding gift? (13:28)

(13:28) Woman 2: Why not, only if she buys her home mattress covers and tablecloths from me. This is also a tablecloth made of lacework that takes lots of time (13:54).

(14:19) Woman 3: I’m baking Mna’eech of all kinds; cheese, thyme, labneh, meat, whatever you want (14:30).

(14:31) Contributor: This is all from your garden right? (14:32)

(14:32) Woman 3: Yes of course, we grow the thyme; we mix the cheese and meat. And the dough is prepared using the wheat that we grow (14:46).

(14:46) Contributor: Do you think the people are still attached to their homeland? (14:47).

(14:48) Woman 3: Yes a lot. If it comes to me, I can never live except in the mountain (14:59).

(14:59) Contributor: Why not? (15:00).

(15:00) Woman 3: Because I lived all my life here and I'm used to the life in the mountain. The climate is different and everything else is (15:08).

(15:09) Contributor: What about the people in the mountain? (15:09).

(15:10): Woman 3: They are perfect (15:12).

(15:12) Contributor: Do you think those who live in the mountain are more attached to their lands than those who live in the city? And why? (15:18).

(15:20): Woman 3/Man: Yes of course. These are our habits. Those who have lived their whole lives in the mountains can’t get out easily, they are attached to it and they get used to live here (15:37).

(15:47) Cheikh: Our traditions are out identity. It’s who we are, we can’t change it. This is the way we live (16:05).

(16:22) Contributor: Can you tell us a memory you recall from your life here in the mountain? (16:26).

(16:27) Man/Cheikh: All our memories are here. We always try to inherit our traditions to our kids (16:48).

(17:05) Woman 3: This is the thyme we grow in our gardens, we pick it and let it dry in the sun before we grind it before mixing it with sumac (17:26).

(17:26) Contributor: So from A to Z this is homemade (17:27).

(17:27) Woman 3: Yes of course (17:28).

(17:38) Woman 3: These herbs are found in the garden. We don't grow them, they just appear next to the tomatoes we grew. We add to it tomatoes, onions, sumac and olive oil (17:54).

(22:19) Man 2: This is a traditional chicken sandwich from the mountain; we raise chicken in our farms without any chemical products and we slaughter them; this is Halal (22:25).