Sitting in his shop at Takia Sulaimaniya, Craftsman Anwar Shaaban uses his chisel to compact tiny artistic pieces close to each other, and he ends up creating a magnificent artistic piece of mosaic.
Shaaban has pursued his passion for mosaic handicraft since early childhood as his father and grandfather taught it to him and his brother.
The Damascene wooden mosaic is one of the oldest, most distinguished traditional handicrafts in Damascus, giving its houses a unique beauty and earning considerable popularity among Syrians and tourists alike.
The mosaic art has reached significant aesthetic levels as luxury palaces in different parts of the world nowadays are witnesses on the elegance and beauty of this art.
The Syrian embassies and consulates in a number of states all over the world are also decorated with Damascene mosaic.
“This handicraft depends on different types of wood which are decorated with shells of various types, and the aesthetic value of the mosaic piece depends on the original color of the wood as the color of the lemon is yellow and the color of the poplar is white,” Shaaban said.
The main body and structure of the mosaic pieces is made from beech or walnut wood.
Shaaban added “What makes the mosaic painting distinguished is the preciseness as to make it you need to prepare the required drawing and this is the first task as the work is done through drawing geometric shapes on the selected piece of wood.”
” Then we put the shells in their assigned places on the wooden piece and after that we start the process of softening the mosaic painting and preparing it, particularly if it needs accessories and hinges, and later we take it to a new workshop where it is polished and becomes ready,” Shaaban said.
He added that the mosaic piece needs from three to five days to be accomplished, indicating that the raw materials of this handicraft are available in Syria and sometimes the shells are imported from Malaysia and Indonesia.
Mosaics aren’t limited to small trinkets and gift items; there are mosaic chairs, cabinets, bookshelves, and entire furniture sets, Shaaban said.