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Skills associated with traditional handicraft

Overview

Ra'i al jaseef (fish preservers)

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The sea has many treasures to offer people, and because of this many villages and cities have grown up along coastal areas.
One of the most important treasures of the sea is fish of all kinds. Depending on the season, different kinds of fish are more abundant than others and this leads to many different and innovative ways of preserving fish for long periods of time. These methods have been passed down from fathers and forefathers to their children. There is still demand for such products to this day.

Ra’i al jaseef:  This is the name given to the person who used to dry different kinds of fish and sell them. He would bring the fish from the sea and put them under the sun for a period of time until they were dry. The dried fish could then be used as food or as compost for plants. 

This profession was mostly practised in the winter, when there were many varieties of fish near the coast and in nearby depths. Such local varieties include fish like badah, qabit, safi, nisar, and bayah. Fishermen would catch these fish in large nets, then clean them and salt them in preparation for storage. 

The process starts by cleaning the fish by cutting them into two halves, removing the insides and heads, then stuffing them with large amounts of salt. The salt  draws out any water from the flesh of the fish and increases its acidity, preventing germs from infecting it. After that, the fish would be hung up with rope to dry in the air or placed on a mat on the dry ground in the open air. If well preserved, al kaseef fish is particularly known for lasting for several months and can be eaten without cooking. 

Dried fish was known as an ideal food on long trips and people who lived far from the sea would trade their goods for different kinds of salted and dried fish, which they could take home and eat at any time. 
 

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