Zaza's father was a woodcarver. He liked to pass on his knowledge and always had many students, Zaza recalls. He also taught woodcarving to children with special needs. Zaza began to take an interest in his father’s craft when he was about 13. His father would draw something and Zaza would carve it; it was a sort of learning-by-doing process. He worked on a big chest for almost six months. Today Zaza wants to contribute to the safeguarding of the craft as well. In the IDP settlement he teaches 15 to 16 students, most of them young men but occasionally some women also come to learn. Most students come to the workshop after their regular school day. The first step is imparting the craft’s history, then he teaches the theory because construction and composition have to be learnt as well. Understanding the meaning of the different ornaments is also important to Zaza, for example the spiral form, which symbolizes the sun rising. He wants to preserve this traditional design vocabulary because it is part of his community’s identity.

Text: Susanna Koeberle
Photo: Alex Levac