The Syria of today offers tourists as much a cultural experience as a sightseeing one, where ancient history provides a fascinating backdrop to everyday life on the streets                          

 


HALL OF METALWORK

The most employed metal in the manufacture of vessels and utensils is the copper pure or in alloyed form as bronze and brass. This is because of its flexibility for flattening and hammering out without exposing it to heat. The copper may be left keeping its red color, or may be whitened by tin. It may embellished by encrusting it with some precious metal such as silver or gold. It may as well be encrusted with precious stones, silver or gold or it may also be plated with gold or silver.

Copper is generally engraved in depth to get the motifs clearly stand out by incising or by hammering the background. Sometimes it is ornamented with chiseling, openwork or repoussé . Its decorations are then, in relief.

Damascus was famous for the art of encrusting, and the word expresses this craft in European languages is derived from Damascus i.e. Damasquinage ( damascening ). Aleppo and al-Mawsil were also famous for this craft and Damascus excelled in the manufacture of steed and different kinds of arms.

In the decoration of the traditional copper vessels. the artist used to adorn the parts of the vessel with what suits its shape, for example: the beak is adorned with light decorations; a band bearing floral motifs arid sometimes epigraphs are put round the neck. The trunk is encircled after that by a large belt which the artist furnishes in several parts, with medallions containing human and animal figures or stylized floral motifs. He may as well distribute small medallions on or under the belt, putting in their place garlands. He may also place cartridges which he covers with epigraphic motifs and makes them alternate with the medallions and with the circles which contain the animal figures or the stylized floral and interwove motifs .

As for the inscriptions figured on the copper vessels, they may be texts of identification, giving the name of the King or the Prince for whom the vessel is manufactured ,sometimes the name of artisan is mentioned. The inscriptions are, for the most part, rhymed and express phrases such as:

" al-ez ad-Da’em wa’l Omr as-Salem " ( the permanent glory and the perfect age). They may also give a vague identification of the dynasty in power: " Glory to our Master al-Makhdumi al-Malki an-Nasiri ". These traditional inscriptions persisted until the Ottoman Period.

The oldest copper piece is the pitcher found at Fayymn in Egypt. It is related to the Umayyad Period . In the Museum of Damascus, the oldest copper piece is exhibited in the showcase of metalwork of the Hall of ar-Raqqah . It dates back to the third century A.H. = 9 A.D. It may be noted that the pitcher of Fayyum resembles the terracotta pitcher of the same period.

Samples of the charming Arabic decorations :

 
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