Heading to Basra
© Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford
"Balam on the River Euphrates." Wilfred Thesiger, 1954. Carrying a load of reed mats downriver to Basra, this sailing bellam runs ahead of the prevailing northwesterly shamal wind. Mature reed was cut when dry in winter, split, woven into mats, then sailed downriver to market in time for the late summer date harvest. Our thanks to Richard Shaffer for helping us harvest some airline miles!