Waterskin

The making of the traditional waterskin and men’s satchels includes a number of processes.  Firstly, the whole hide of a goat is removed in one piece.   A plant, called īrēm in Mehri, is then put inside the hide to remove the hair.  After the hair is removed, the hide is washed in salt and water and then left to tan for one or two days.  The plant acacia etbaica is used to tan the hide.  Once this is completed the front and hind legs are sewn together so the hide will now hold water and straps are added to it.  The waterskin would then be carried by a camel or on a person’s back.  A man’s satchel is made in a similar way to the waterskin, but is more decorative with embroidery added to the hide.  The satchel in the image is embroidered with plastic bags and is from the Modern South Arabian Material Culture collection, whilst the other images were taken in Oman by Janet Watson.

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Man’s satchel made from a goat hide

Waterskins and satchels made this way are no longer common as thermos flasks and jerry cans are now popular.  However, the process used to make them is still known by some people.  Some of the stages of this process can be seen in the images.

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A goat hide being soaked to remove the hair
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A goat hide which had been prepared to be made into a waterskin.
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A waterskin
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A man’s leather satchel.
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