MetalWare Now

MetalWare Now

The industry of metalware is one of the Damascene characteristics in Syria and neighboring countries. A lot of workshops excelled in this profession in different places in Damascus; the most famous of which is the Nahasin Souq (Coppersmith Market) in King Fayssal Street.

Coppersmiths used to import brass from Europe and work on it at their workshops to produce various pots and dishes. They also used silver in their industry to make it look more attractive and artistic.

As amazing as it seems, we use the damascene technique invented more than a thousand years ago to make the circuitry (wire network) on computer chips today. However, instead of choosing a metal for the substrate, which was preferred by earlier craftspeople, modern computer chip designers use silicon, a semimetal. Like damascene designs on medieval armor, damascened computer chip circuitry is highly intricate.

A Tradition Forged in Steel
By Obaida Hamad
Ghiath Abdul, 26, from Syria, started learning the art of inlaid silver, copper and brass work at the age of 10. Back then, he remembers watching a street full of local smiths painstakingly cutting and hammering away at their metals, masters of their profession. Today, however, only Abdul and three other craftsmen in Damascus’s Old City still produce inlaid metal goods by hand, using original methods which date back some 700 years to the Mamluk era.
Keeping this tradition alive, Abdul explains, is no easy task. To compete in a market increasingly flooded with cheaper mass-produced imitations, the young metal artisan has begun to modernize the style and content of his decorative inlays. Browsing through his shop just behind Damascus’s Umayyad Mosque, tourists can now find an array of copper and brass plates of all shapes and sizes with gold and silver inscriptions quoting traditional Islamic blessings and well-known verses of Arab poetry.