Mesopotamians were the first people to use glazed brick
as a contruction material. They used it to make mud
walls water resistant rather than as decoration. But
glaze allowed the introduction of colour, and these
colourful surfaces, decorated with beautiful geometric
and floral forms, arabesque panels and elegant bands
of calligraphy, eventually became an indispensable element
of Islamic architecture, absorbing the creative genius
that, in the Christian West, went into frescoes and
Bahrain: Bahrain consists of an anarchipelago
of 36 islands, the biggest being Bahrain island. It
is thirty miles long andtwenty miles wide, situated
off the east coast of the Arabian mainland. Manama the
capital of Bahrain is on the main island. Reputedly
the ''Garden of Eden'' in ancient times, Bahrain has
been inhabited for more than 5,000 years. The archipelago
is cultivating its own rich heritage and is becoming
a focal point in the Gulf for exhibitions, concerts
and theatrical performances by cultural groups visiting
from Europe and Asia. Bahrain's Islamic heritage is
evident in its wind towers, intricate door carvings,
restored houses and mosques, and the crafts still practiced
by skilled weavers, boat builders and potters. Geometric
forms and decorative Arabic motifs abound on walls,
doors, floors and pathways.
The unique geographical situation of
Iran, which has served as a bridge between the East
and the West, together with its diverse climatic conditions
and various raw materials available, have caused the
flourishing of many arts and crafts in this country
in its long history. During the pre-Islamic era from
Achaemenid to Sassanian (559 BC - 651 AD), precious
items such as textiles, metalworks, jewellery, lusterwares
and glasswares were sent from Iran to China and Europe.
The adoption and extensive application of geometrical
designs on glazed tiles, ceramics, carpets and also
metal, wood and stone engravings and finally the making
of khatam (marquetry) and enamelled objects, led to
the perfection of these designs. Iranian carpets and
kilims are famous all over the world.
The territory of present-day Iraq is approximately
equivalent to that of ancient Mesopotamia, which fostered
a series of early civilizations. Iraqi crafts go deep
into its rich diverse history and geography. The main
items of Iraqi crafts include various types of kilims
and carpets, textiles, ceramics, brass and copper works,
woodwork, palmtree products, leatherwork, calligraphy
and reproduction of Islamic prints, painted glass and
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (al-Mamlakah al-Urdunniya
al-Hashimiyah) is predominantly Arab. Jordan has a very
rich history of arts and crafts that consists of embroidary,
jewellery, weaving, basketry and ceramics & pottery.
Embroidary is one of the most important traditional
crafts of Jordanian women and one which has, in recent
years, been incorporated into high fashion. This art
of embroidery has been carried over into the making
of cushions in bright colors, which grace the decor
of many Jordanian homes. Jewellery has a long
history in the Kingdom; stores of gold and silver jewellery
dating from Roman times have been unearthed on various
archaeological sites. Jordan has many natural clay deposits,
which have been used for many centuries in the making
The Bedouins of Kuwait were, and are known, for their
hospitality, pride, honour, courage and endurance. The
main areas of the crafts of this country are weaving,
pearl diving and ship building. The weaving of wool
is the oldest craft practised by the Bedouins of Kuwait.
The weaving process is known as 'Al Sadu', a term also
used for the Bedouin loom. The 'sadu', or bedu weaving,
has a long history in the Middle East. It is the speciality
of Bedu women who made the tent in which they lived
made of strips woven out of goat's hair or sheep's wool
or a mixture of both, and its furnishings, such as rugs
and cushions. They also made articles like men's cloaks,
saddlebags etc. that suited the Bedu migratory lifestyle.
It is a craft that requires a high degree of dexterity
and skill. The designs reflect the austerity of the
natural environment of the desert and are governed by
the wider principles of Islamic culture. Kuwait has
a rich maritime tradition, of which boats were an important
part. Dhows or huge wooden vessels were a speciality
of Kuwait. Even in this age of super tankers, dhow building
is a carefully preserved art, though its reduced significance
has now restricted this activity to the Doha Bay area.
Lebanon's long and often turbulent history dates back
to the dawn of civilization. Its earliest settlers were
the Phoenicians who came from the Arabian Peninsula
around 3,500 BC. They established cities at Beirut,
Byblos, Tyre, Sidon, and Baalbek and spread their 22-letter
Phoenician alphabet throughout the region. After a succession
of different rulers, they became part of the Roman Empire
in 64 BC when Pomey the Great conquered the territory
that comprises modern Lebanon and governed it as part
of the province of Syria.
The country has reached a high level of cultural achievement
in the arts, with a popular form of poetry being zajal,
where poets enter into a witty dialogue of improvised
verse. The national dance is the "Dabke",
which is performed throughout the country by dancers
wearing traditional Lebanese mountain costume. The theme
of the dance relates to village life. Local crafts include
glass-making, weaving, pottery, embroidery and brass
and copper work.
Omanis are justly proud of their heritage and history,
which goes back thousands of years. The main craft activities
of the Omanis are ship building, traditional pottery,
jewellery industry, copper industry and textile industry.
the sixth century B.C. Oman was known by the name of
"Majan"– meaning the land of copper
or the land of ships or the port of ships. Some Omani
coastal towns like Sohar, Sur, Muttrah, Mirbat gained
fame for the skill of their people in building ships.
Several types of these are still seen in Oman like the
Jalibut, the Sambuq, the Badan, the Ghanjah, the Baghlah,
the Shashah and Al Boum.
knew the use of copper since early ages as indicated
by the findings of the archaeological excavations in
Wadi al Jizzi. Omanis were able to obtain copper from
underground and innovated special furnaces to melt copper
and established several industries like spoon making,
cooking utensils and coffee flasks.. The person responsible
for cleaning and polishing the copper utensils was known
as "Al Saffar".
Syria: The main
craft items of Syria can be categorized into brassware,
silver ware, steel blades, jewelry, furniture, carpets
and kilims, Intarsia (carved wood), textile and pottery.
the mid-thirteenth century until the beginning of the
sixteenth boxes, vases and candlesticks were produced
in Damascus for the European market and exported via
Venice. Metal inlay is a highly specialized craft. The
craftsmen use undecorated pieces which have been cast
or wrought in bronze or brass by other craftspersons;
only the decoration is applied in the inlay workshops.
Silversmiths appear to have worked only in Damascus,
Aleppo and Deir ez-Zor. Judging by the quantity of silver
jewelry that still exists, the number of silversmiths
must have been considerable.
art of producing the famous 16-18th century Damascus
steel blades found in many museums was lost long ago.
Recently, however, research has established strong evidence
supporting the theory that the distinct surface patterns
on these blades result from a carbide-banding phenomenon
produced by the micro segregation of minor amounts of
carbide-forming elements present in the wootz ingots
from which the blades were forged.
The United Arab Emirates is home to a rich cultural
heritage that has been strongly influenced by its desert
and oasis living people who were masters at surviving
in one of the harshest climates on our planet. The skills
of desert life are still held in high esteem by many
of the UAE’s people and members of the older generation
recall that they were crucial to their own survival.
There are practically
no archaeological sites in the U.A.E. which have not
yielded some remains, however meagre, of human adornment.
Sites from the late Stone Age (6th-4th millennium B.C.)
are often replete with beads of shell, bone and stone
which would have once been strung in necklaces and bracelets.
Marine shells and mother-of-pearl were sometimes artfully
carved; imported stones like agate and carnelian from
the Indus Valley (particularly from Gujarat, India)
were highly sought after. Precious metals, including
gold and silver, are present in small quantities and
can be seen in the museums of Fujairah and Ras al-Khaimah.
vessels, particularly good for holding fatty or oily
substances, began to be made in the area by about 2500
B.C. Most of these were manufactured from steatite or
chlorite, a soft mineral found in certain parts of the
Hajar mountains. During the late 3rd, 2nd and 1st millennium
B.C. the U.A.E. had an extensive stone bowl-manufacturing
industry which produced vessels in immediately recognisable
shapes with very particular decorative patterns. Examples
of such locally-made stone vessels have been found at
sites in Iraq, Iran, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Baluchistan
and the Indus Valley.