In the early morning, Issa and his son Tony prepare olive wood for holding cross carvings that symbolize the pilgrimage that has brought visitors to Palestine from across the globe. Beginning in 1971, Issa started his journey by handcrafting these holding crosses from Palestinian olive wood. His family business grew in 1997 when Issa’s son Tony joined the team, and the two continue to hand-make olive wood products in Bethlehem today.
The holding cross carries great significance to those of Christian faiths. These olive wood carvings showcase this through their famous cross shape, and their embodiment of the history and roots that Christianity has in Palestine.
With the olive wood sourced from Palestine, Issa and Tony’s products also represent the importance of olive trees in Palestinian lives. These trees symbolize Palestinians’ attachment and connection to the land, and provide a source of income for many people just like Issa and Tony.
Olive wood working in Bethlehem has been a centuries-old practice that produces intricate and sustainable carvings to this day. We work with a number of these olive wood artisans who make beautiful products that you can use every day! You can see our Christian sculptures collection here or our kitchen utensils that Issa and Tony actually make for us here. Issa and Tony have joined this historical community of talented woodworkers, and have clearly made their mark with their crosses.
With Palestine being a pilgrimage site for many Christians across the globe, these holding crosses brought Palestinian olive wood to an international community. Issa and Tony crafted a way to symbolize the pilgrimage made to Palestine and created a physical reminder for these people’s faith. Now, the stories of Christianity and its Palestinian roots live on within each holding cross far after Issa and Tony polish the last grain.