Marsh Residents hold tight to their Reed Homes

By Wassim Bassem for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraqi marsh residents hold tight to their reed homes

Many houses in the towns and villages in southern Iraq are made of green reeds. The town of Nasiriyah, which is located 350 kilometers (217 miles) southeast of Baghdad, is one of them. The green reeds, found in the marshes of southern Iraq, turn into strong yellow sticks after drying.

Green reeds are environmentally friendly, and Iraqis are proud of their cultural value, as they date back to the days of the Sumerian civilization in Iraq in 4000 B.C., specifically in the southern regions of the country. Houses made of papyrus and palm trunks are also common in the south of the country.

Folklore researcher Khayoun Chaker, who lives in the marsh area in Nasiriyah, told Al-Monitor, “Clay inscriptions and cylindrical seals inscribed with the images of houses similar to these [homes] were found in the historical city of Ur near Nasiriyah. This proves that these houses made of reed are the same as those built by the Sumerians thousands of years ago.”

Journalist and Nasiriyah resident Alaa Kouli told Al-Monitor that people buy these houses, which are common in marsh areas such as al-Jabayesh and Hammar Marshes, because “they are cheap and can be built in a few days. They are simple and well suited to the marshes’ environment that has an agricultural aspect with people living off agriculture, fishing and hunting birds.”

Abu Abbas al-Assadi, a sheikh from the Bani Asad tribe in al-Jabayesh district, lives in a house made of reeds in al-Jabayesh, 70 kilometers from the city center of Nasiriyah. The area accommodates floating villages on the marshes. Assadi told Al-Monitor, “The raw material from which these houses are built are the plants and large papyrus fields that grow in water. Modern construction materials such as cement and bricks are not used here.”

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