The Bokhuis Museum: A nostalgic tour of a Levantine house

The “Bayt al-Mu’izza” Museum at the University of Balamand is a model of ethnographic heritage museums. It forms one simple rectangular layer reminiscent of rural village houses.

  • The “Beit Al-Mu’izza” museum from the outside

The Beit Al-Muazza Museum at the University of Balamand is a model of ethnographic heritage museums. It opened in 2009, but its foundation began years before that, when the university administration formed a committee to determine its nature. It was decided that it should be heritage, reflecting the life of the area around the university, and the collection of pieces around the university began. Today there are about 700 pieces, most of them from donors.

The museum is located within the university campus, but on a high point, on its south-eastern edge, where it used to be a hill of an abstract nature, and it contains what are known as the “goats” of the shepherds of the region. , so those involved made it the headquarters of the museum, and called it the “House of the Goat.” Before the foundation of the university in the early nineties of the last century, and because the name includes a reference to its heritage character.

One simple rectangular layer reminiscent of rural country houses, which still exist in the distant countryside, its stones are simply extracted from the site environment, and therefore the director of the museum, Rita Kalandjian – a specialist in antiquities and museums – influences the preservation of its ecological character, away from the character of large modern buildings that make up sections The modern university overseen by the museum.

  • “Dashkat” and Arabic sessions
  • Vans for transporting food
    Vans for transporting food
  • A loom and a gin
    A loom and a gin

A series of simple vaults, not arches, inside supports its long ceiling, giving it a special structural beauty, and “its construction dates back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (cut stones, not rubble) , according to Kalandjian, who has taken over his administration since 2018.

Nostalgia for the era of simplicity

The building underwent repair and cleaning, without changing its features, and a wide space was created in front of it. Its entrance is also a simple door, leading to a wide hall whose sections are separated by multiple arches. It separated two floors with one step.

Kalandjian talks about the organization of the museum and notes that since she took over its management, she has tried to reorganize it and distribute its elements in accordance with the nature of Lebanese village life. who will, restore therein. nostalgia for the era that preceded the entry of modernity in Lebanon in the early sixties of the last century through the Shihabist innovations, where it spread electric current and paved transport networks to the outskirts.

A person can live that era, and many veterans find in him nostalgia for that period, in a tour that begins on the right side of his door, where Kalandjian dedicated the beginning to the living room of the Lebanese house, its walls were surrounded by planks of tall wood, and the long pieces that the villagers knew as “Al-Tazar” or “Dishk”. Both phrases are probably of Turkish origin. His furniture consists of mattresses made of cotton and cloth, covered with embroidered cloth, bright colors, and backrests made of pressed straw. All his manufacturing is local, by local craftsmen, such as carpenters, tailors and upholsterers.

  • yoke and plough
    yoke and plough
  • old machine
    old machine

Heritage furniture

The living room, which in turn went through different eras, included the old radio set that worked on the battery before the arrival of electricity, in addition to the hand phonograph that worked by the “spring”, and pulling on the side of the mattresses were small tables called “complements”, on which coffee pots and jugs were washed, Tea, hand mill for coffee beans, spices, heating stoves and heater (babur kerosene).

Then he divided the rolls of the surfaces and the various construction tools in them, such as the carpenter’s saws, the builder’s saws, the Abu shard, the hammer and others, reaching the bedroom and she began

With the wide-legged “commodine” and the “chauviniere”, then two models of yachts, one urban, made of primitive “Verforge” iron, and the second simple country, raised from the ground, its bedcloth was made of coarse hemp. mourning garment, and each of them brought his needs close, and at a height of The wall has torches of lamps and lamps. I first worked on oil, then on kerosene.

Various sections

At the first corner of the museum, near the bedroom, stands the loom and the gin (wheel) on which the silk threads that the loom provides for weaving are wrapped, along with some accessories. According to Kalandjian, the two pieces were present in every house to tie the cloth, or buy it. In addition to the sewing machine.

Then the dressing room, in which several dresses from that era are on display, including wedding dresses, and Kalandjian refers to “a dress and set for a bride and groom from the twenties.”

Near the hall were exhibited irons, some of which worked on heating with coal, and some of them absorbed coal in them, as a development for its predecessor.

All the way to the mortar house, and in it is a large container covered with tin (zinc), which is the grain storage, with different sections, each section for a specific type of grain, and each section has a bottom hole to extract the grain, and on it are the heaters known as kerosene pipes, and the “mortar” of thick copper, to pound the grain by hand.

  • Country mattress and clogs
    Country mattress and clogs
  • My rooms are stone
    My rooms are stone

Near it is the bulgur hive, and some cells (containers) for agricultural food products, made of gypsum and white lime, and on a shelf are trays – containers for transporting food with multiple layers, and trays that worked on pressure – and on their sides are spades, wooden spoons of various sizes, and a bucket for molasses or tali. Or the fig “bump”, a straw tray, copper dishes, milk jugs, frying pans, metal olive flasks, jugs, pottery and large glass containers (straws) of different sizes to strain oil, wine and grains in different ways with a strainer and strainer to preserve.

number of farmers

The next section deals with the farmer’s equipment that produced all these foods, including the feddan yoke (ox), the samad (plough), the farmer’s lane, the saddle and the saddle, the lift and the pitchfork, the scythe and the pedal fork

The farmer produces his season, and he must know the weights, so some types of them were displayed in a corner that accommodated various types of scales and measures, including the Roman scale, intended for heavy weights.

Copper vessels require protection against arsenic poisoning, and this is done by bleaching, the most prominent of which are hand or foot blowers, of which several models are offered.

  • Museum director
    Director of the “House of the Goat” museum

At the end of the tour, the introduction of an important craft for identification, which is goldsmith, with his tools.

Kalandjian provided explanations on maps for each item, making it easier to identify the museum’s contents and the function of each.

The challenge of expanding the museum remains before those involved, as its area no longer accommodates the exhibits. Therefore, part of it remained undisplayed, pending a solution to expand the museum in a way that preserves its heritage character.

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