5 / 2000

Lebanon * Ladies' wooden "kubkab" inlaid with mother of pearl and silver studded

Wooden stilts known as "kubkabs" or "nalins" were once a practical way for women in the Middle East to protect themselves from dirt and discomfort on wet, muddy streets and in hot, wet bathouses. Those belonging to the wealthy were often richly inlaid with mother of pearl. They were several inches high and had embroidered leather, silk or velvet straps. The name "kubkab" is derived from the sound they make when walking on marble floors. The uppers were embroidered with silver, gold or pewter wire. For special occasions like for instance a wedding, the wooden stilts were entirely covered with entricately decorated silver or with small silver ornaments. Many times brides were very young girls and therefore small in stature. To compensate this, bridal kubkabs were sometimes made as high as two feet. Socially, kubkabs were only worn by women. In bathhouses, however, simple executions, sometimes with a little carving only and a leather-strap upper, were also worn by men.

Research and text by : W.A.H.M. Habraken-Oosterhout-Holland
Illustration by : Colin Ball - Waalwijk - Holland