al-Hiba: Mud Brick Makers

Date: 1960s

Brickmakers begin by locating mud near where the house will be built. Ideally, this location will be near a canal or marsh with enough flat, shady area for the drying process. Once the right mud has been identified drier soil is occasionally added, and the mud is tempered with short pieces of reed or straw. A 1m deep hole is then dug and filled with alternating layers of mud and chopped reed or straw. Water is added once the layers reach 20 to 30cm. This is often left overnight, before being mixed using bare feet. The mixture is then taken to a flat area and the individual bricks are formed in a wooden mould also soaked overnight. Bricks need to dry for between twenty to thirty days, and are often rotated daily after the second day. See also: Maker of Mud Drums; Sculptor of Mud; Potter; Maker of Handmade Pottery Vessels; Builder; Maker of Pisé Houses.

Citation: Ochsenschlager, Edward. Iraq’s Marsh Arabs in the Garden of Eden (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, 2004), pp. 95-97.