- Title: IRAQ: Kurdish village residents make a living from manufacturing clay ovens
- Date: 28th July 2010
- Summary: BUSHRA NASSIH AND HER FAMILY MEMBERS WORKING BOY SITTING AMID CLAY OVEN
- Embargoed: 12th August 2010 13:00
- Location: Iraq
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Industry
- Reuters ID: LVADONHUPOUQ4ALIBKSTBGM4Z2QE
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Dozens of factories making Iraq's traditional clay over called tanoor dot this small village of Kuljekan, that lies in the multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk. Kuljekan has been known in the country for making tanoors for the past five decades.
But in recent years, more and more people in this village have taken to making the tanoor, that is used for making traditional flat bread.
One of the reasons for this trend is a lack of other work opportunities in the village.
"We are poor people and we don't have work. Therefore, we have to manufacture clay ovens. I have been in this profession since 1991. My mother taught me how to make the clay oven. My husband and I make different types and sizes of clay ovens for restaurants, houses and bakeries," said Bushra Nassih.
The tanoor is made by hand, as it has been done for centuries.
Mud and straw are mixed with water to make the substance for conical ovens of varying sizes. The ovens are then left to dry in the sun for two to five days, depending on their size.
The demand for ovens has increased since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, as the tanoor does not require gas or electricity, that are in short supply these days in many parts of Iraq.
The increase in the number of people making the oven has brought the prices down, local oven makers say.
The largest clay ovens used to fetch prices of up to 150,000 Iraqi dinars (about 128 U.S. dollars) several years ago. Now, the price ranges from 25,000 Iraqi dinars (about 20 U.S. dollars) for a small oven to 100,000 Iraqi dinars (about 85 dollars) for a large one, according to Kirkuk oven makers.
"Only five families used to manufacture clay ovens in this village earlier. But in recent times, all residents of this village make clay ovens. Because of an increase in the number of factories making these ovens, we are forced to sell our products cheap," said Bushra Nassih.
Difficult living conditions have forced some children to quit school and help their families in the business.
"I have been working as a clay oven maker for the past five years. My job is to mix up the mud with straw to make a substance that is used to make these ovens. I make 25,000 Iraqi dinars (about 20 U.S. dollars) per a week. I help my family in making and selling these ovens," said 15-year-old Marwan Ramadan.
For many, working conditions are hard.
"We make four to six clay ovens a week. We can't make more than that because it is very hot in summer and very cold in winter. Sometimes we need to a fire to warm our hands while working in winter," said Um Firhad, who owns a tanoor factory.
The oldest clay oven, said to be dating back to 4000 B.C., was excavated in the historical city of Babylon.
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