The beat goes on for Palestinian drum craftsman

HEBRON, West Bank (Reuters) - Ayoub al-Zaatari combines tradition and artistry in the handmade drums he crafts in his workshop in the ancient town of Hebron.

The 55-year-old Palestinian learned his trade from his father, and sells his clay drums in the occupied West Bank and in Israel.

It takes Zaatari about 40 minutes to paint the body of the instruments, available in four sizes, and then stretch and attach their animal hide drumheads.

“The leather is from our country and the clay is made from the soil of our country, so we manufacture it all here,” he said.

Some of his customers, Zaatari said, buy the drums for wedding celebrations, while others purchase the instruments as art pieces for their homes.

But sales have not been good for many years.

“We had a drop down in our business when imported (products) arrived in the market and when people started to use DJs in the weddings instead of the handmade drums,” he said. “Despite that drop, I continued in this business although it is shrinking - and in the last ten years, it has been dying.”

The drums cost between 7 and 35 shekels ($2-$10), depending on their size and painted designs.

Reporting by Yusri al-Jamal and Mustafa Abu Ganeyeh; Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky