Olive oil soaps. A visit to the soap museum in Saida, Lebanon, broadens our horizons as to soap history in our regions, its development, its manufacture techniques and its usage throughout the centuries.
The soap museum of Saida, Lebanon, is housed inside the old soap factory of Audi family. The principal elements of the soap factory are constantly in Situ such as the huge basin and the Lixiviation basins. Other installations have been re-emerged from the past and a chronological path was redrawn.
Thus, visitors explore the different steps of the traditional olive oil soap production; raw materials, fuel and adopted practices for the preparation of the paste, liquefaction, drying, cutting into bars and final drying prior to packaging and marketing. These installations are illustrated on panels that include drawings and .
The required tools for soap manufacture are not that many. They are displayed alongside the path inside the museum: jars, canteens, the big shovel, buckets…
Window-shops are consecrated to display molds, and a great variety of molded or fashioned soaps by hand.
Soap molds are reconstituted with respect to tradition and uncover how bar soaps were dried.
Towards the end of the path, visitors can watch a documentary retracing the different steps of traditional soap manufacture as well as the shaping of colorful extruded soaps that are typical of Tripoli city, situated in northern Lebanon.
Hammam or public bath.
It was necessary and complementary to provide a window-shop dedicated to the Hammam.
An explicatory text pinpoints the advantages of the Hammam on the social level and for hygiene concerns. Numerous traditional objects and materials are exposed such as henneh which was applied on the hair to make it more shiny and smooth, messouak sticks used until date in some regions of Arabia for brushing teeth, kohl boxes, sponge and soap cases, pumice stones, and clogs, etc…
Pottery and Ceramics
During the transformation of the old soap factory into an ethnographic museum, the original floor was removed. In the debris, ceramic pieces dating back to the Arab and Ottoman eras were unearthed as well as head pipes made from molded pottery.
These pieces, in part restored, are displayed in window-shops especially devoted to that purpose. A typological study is under way to determine these pieces in time through their forms, designs and functions.