05:12 GMT +316 December 2018
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    A Syrian man sits inside his handicraft shop in the Syrian capital, Damascus

    New Dawn: Centuries-Old Syrian Crafts Return to Liberated Aleppo

    © AFP 2018 / JOSEPH EID
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    The masters of Syria’s ancient traditional crafts that are traditional for Syria are returning to Aleppo to reopen their workshops after the city’s liberation from Daesh.

    The traditions of Aleppo’s craftsmen, which date back thousands of years, were almost lost due to the war. The craftsmen were forced to flee their homes and abandon their workshops when Islamic extremists took control of Aleppo.

    Lately however, life in Aleppo is returning back to normal and arts and crafts district is seeing a speedy revival.

    Abdul Wahab Khabaj is from a family of tinsmiths and has thirty years of experience in the business. “Patterns on my pitchers or huge copper plates with their own unique unrepeatable meaning are a symbol of our traditions rooted in the ancient Assyrian civilization," he said.

    He noted that before the outbreak of hostilities in Aleppo, there were dozens of family-run workshops like his, but when terrorists started to destroy their places of business using missiles, the craftsmen were forced to leave the city. 

    Craftsmen at work, Damascus.
    © Sputnik / Valeriy Melnikov
    Craftsmen at work, Damascus.

    However, following the liberation of Aleppo, Abdul Wahab has reopened his workshop together with his son. Here, connoisseurs of traditional metalwork and tourists alike can find a welcome resurgence of Syrian arts and crafts in the making.

    Syrian woodwork with mother-of-pearl mosaic inlay is celebrated the world over. The artwork is mostly found in mosques clad in Islamic motifs, but can also be found in everyday items for the home.

    A Syrian artisan etches away at wooden panels inlaid with mother-of-pearl, at a workshop in the capital, Damascus
    © AFP 2018 / LOUAI BESHARA
    A Syrian artisan etches away at wooden panels inlaid with mother-of-pearl, at a workshop in the capital, Damascus

    The traditional product is made from various kinds of wood, such as lemon wood, olive wood, rosewood and walnut; these are combined with the shining mother-of-pearl. A design is laid out in a geometric pattern and cut into blocks. This product can then be used for furniture pieces or decoration items such as vases, chess boards, jewelry boxes, etc.

    The skills of embroidery, ceramics, pottery, jewelry, weaving, mosaic art and basket-making are all carried down from generation to generation.

    Abdul Wahab noted that his tin work, which can take up to several months to produce, is sold not only in Syria but also in Libya, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

    An engraver in a workshop in the suburbs Damascus
    © Sputnik / Iliya Pitalev
    An engraver in a workshop in the suburbs Damascus

    The craftsman said that he is sure that many of his friends who used to run their own workshops are now ready to return to Aleppo, especially considering that the city’s authorities have dedicated their attention to the speedy restoration of the crafts sector.

    On December 23 last year, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced the completion of the operation to liberate Aleppo from terrorists.


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    society, tradition, liberation, art, Aleppo, Syria
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