Skills Associated with Traditional craftsmanship



Al Raha

Raha (Millstones) one of the most important tools in the traditional Emirati kitchen, which is usually located in one corner of the house away from the living rooms and places of rest. Emirati kitchens were distinguished by their small size and would contain the tools and utensils that are used in preparing and serving food, and storing food supplies, such as dates, flour, etc.

Usually, women would start their day in the early morning using the raha, which is a primitive device made of heavy, coarse stone that is used for crushing and grinding grains. It consists of two round stones on top of each other, so that the lower stone is smaller than the upper stone, allowing the ground flour to come out from the bottom. The raha is a fixed immobile device, which has a narrow hole in its middle, allowing the passage of a wooden or metal axis that is fixed in its middle, called the raha pole. The upper part of the raha moves and its rotation leads to the grinding and crushing of grains. It has a relatively large hole in the middle that allows easy placement of the grains. There is another small hole at its end in which the wooden handle is placed which is used to move the raha. In addition, the raha includes the “butterfly”, which is rectangular piece of wood similar to a butterfly spindle, along with a hole in the middle that is used to hold the wooden or iron axis and fix it so that it does not budge. The “butterfly” is fixed at the opening of the upper stone of the raha. “Hadi” is a piece of wood in the form of a small stick that is attached to the side hole to form the handle with which the upper stone of the raha is turned. A piece of cloth is sometimes wrapped around the hadi so as not to injure the hands. The “qutb” (pole) is the wooden or metal axis around which the raha revolves. “Lahwa” it is the small handful of grains that are successively placed inside the raha hole for grinding. This is known as “luhwa of wheat”, which is referenced as the “lahwa” being large or small, or less than a hafna (handful). A handful of grain is called hafna. A lahwa is roughly half a hafna. The “thifal” is piece of woven sheep’s wool and goat fur, placed under the raha, so that the flour and crushed grains fall on it. The fineness of the grains can be controlled depending on what traditional dishes the grains will be used for, such as harees, asida or and khabees. The use of the raha is not limited to making flour only, but it can also be used to coarsely grind wheat to make garish. It can also be used to coarsely grind lentils, which is used in other delicious traditional dishes.

One woman cannot move the large raha "tarsha" by herself due to its heavy weight, so usually two women do so together. Because women usually sit for long periods with this tool, a strong relationship has been established between them and the raha. In addition, during the raha milling process, women would exchange folk tales and stories, and compete in telling poetry, riddles and proverbs, and chanting songs. They also made sure that young girls are involved by teaching them the skills of using the raha to grind grains.


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