al-Aggar: Boat Recoaters

Date: 1951-58

Wilfred Thesiger (d. 2003) describes the recoating of the exterior surface of wooden canoes with bitumen. This process had to be done annually. The old bitumen would be chipped off by boys. Small pieces of wood would be cut to fill up any gaps between the planks. Chunks of bitumen, brought from Hit, would then be heated and painted over the surfaces. The preferred time to undertake this process was the summer. The repair of small cracks in the bitumen could be made between recoatings by holding a torch made of reeds close to affected areas. See also: Boat Builder; Carpenter.

Citation: Wilfred Thesiger, The Marsh Arabs (London: The Folio Society, 2004. First edition: London: Longman, 1964), pp. 103-104.