Portraits of Syria: The Craftsmen

The Coppersmith (Damascus)

The Coppersmith (Damascus)

Following my previous posting of portraits of (mostly) businessmen and shopkeepers, thought I'd create a series depicting the many hard working craftsmen that toil away every day in support of Syria's economy. This series was shot during a number of visits to Syria between 2008 and 2010, all before the advent of the current civil war in 2011. This was when life in Syria was "normal".

The Metal Smiths (Aleppo)

The Metal Smiths (Aleppo)

The Nut Roaster (Damascus) 

The Nut Roaster (Damascus) 

The Coppersmith (Aleppo)

The Coppersmith (Aleppo)

The Metal Smith (Damascus)

The Metal Smith (Damascus)

What always used to fascinate me was how Syria appeared and felt like it was literally thirty years behind most modern industrial nations, a time-warp taking one back to the times before big factories and a simpler lifestyle. Syria is littered with small family-run businesses and factories in the ancient alleyways of cities like Damascus and Aleppo. Here men would skillfully be creating any type of item, from household kitchen items, decorative metalwork, heavy duty tools, construction and building materials, all kind of pots and other vessels and many more. Other would be producing food items, like bakers (that will be a further series to follow), flour mills and nut roasting in fascinating, large rotating stainless steel barrels over a gas flame. 

Unfortunately, I doubt whether many of these small industries are still running, especially in Aleppo. Perhaps it is true that such small operators are more resilient than larger multi-nationals, and less sensitive to monetary investment. It could also be that they are much quicker off the mark to recover and restart their operations given the opportunity. If this is the case, visitors to this fascinating country may well experience the sights, sounds and smells of these craft shops again, marvel at their skill and hope that it will be passed on the the next generation to hopefully stay alive for another while.

I sincerely hope so, as I cannot wait to visit again ... 

The Pot Maker (Damascus)

The Pot Maker (Damascus)

The Boilermaker (Damascus)

The Boilermaker (Damascus)