The enduring art of Palestinian tiles

Despite economic challenges, four generations of the Aslan family have honed the craft in their Nablus workshop.

Mary Pelletier | | Arts & Culture, Palestine, Middle East, Occupied West Bank

Nablus, occupied West Bank - Aslan Tiles, located in downtown Nablus, is the last remaining producer of traditional Palestinian tiles in the West Bank. Since the 1930s, four generations of the Aslan family have honed the craft, and recently they have resisted lucrative offers to move the operation to Israel.

Palestinian flagstone tiles reached the height of their domestic popularity in the 1930s, when many urban homes throughout Palestine decorated their floors and walls with intricate floral and geometric patterns. 

With the rise of inexpensive, mass-produced tiles in the 1980s and 1990s, the demand for local tiles waned, and local tile producers around the West Bank disappeared. In the past decade, however, Anan Aslan has seen a renewed interest in their bespoke product, which is handmade by a staff of seven on the company’s small, three-building premises.

"In the last 10 years, there has been a growing appreciation of this product because people now feel like it is a tradition, a heritage, something that reminds them of their past and their roots," Aslan said. "It used to be a necessity and people liked its durability, but now it is seen as more of a luxury. People want to enjoy this art."

READ MORE: Growing the traditional art of Palestinian ceramics



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