Yasid and wheat

A few years ago, I thought I would write more about grain cultivation in the West Bank. Up ‘till the 1960s, it was still an important crop, even in the hills. Today, one is hard pressed to find any. Grain was really important in Yasid, which is a village north of Nablus. Here are some grain stories.

In the 1940s, the British attempted to force Yasid to provide flour or wheat to Burqa. This was after the war, but before 1948. The people refused to do so. The British tried to enter the village and figure things out and ended up being forced out.

The gendered division of labor for grain: there is a tool called an ‘ashaba—a small, curved piece of wood with a metal bit at the end—which was used to remove weeds and other unwanted plants from grain-planted areas. The head of the tool would be used to pry weeds out of the ground, and women were usually doing this sort of work. When chemicals were introduced, it became man's work to get rid of the weeds. 

Prior to 1950 the village grew a type of corn called “aranis.” People would mix it with flour made from “white wheat,” purchased from Haifa or Nablus (this mill, in the center of the city, hasn't been active for more than 30 years. It is now being torn down and replaced with a mall). They would buy this white flower and mix it with the local flower to make a very filling bread called "charadish." There is an expression now, when one is full, to say they ate this bread. Today, this type of corn is very rarely found in Palestine.

Sirwal (sorta like baggy pants) were made out of recycled cloth, sometimes from the bags that flour came in. After 1967, UNWRA (or would it would have been USAID or its precursor, I don't know) bags were distributed to people. On the bags there is an image of two hands shaking each other. There is a joke about people making pants from those, and having to walk around with an image of two hands on your ass.