The Palestinian artist Azzam Abu Al-Saud strives to keep the memory of Jerusalem alive by preserving the art of “Arabesque” through this art and preventing it from disappearing.
“My message is to preserve this art and prevent it from disappearing,” Abu Al-Saud told Anadolu Agency, averaging a group of arabesque works in his home in the Ras Al-Amoud neighborhood in the east -Jerusalem.
Abu Al-Saud (73) is also a writer and has worked for many years as director of the Chamber of Commerce in Jerusalem. He is an expert on the city’s history, which has helped him to recreate this history through artistic paintings.
Arabesque art combines carved wood, colored glass, metal and beautiful geometric designs, to create paintings that decorate the windows of homes, religious places and institutions.
Throughout history, this type of art has been used to decorate the windows of homes, institutions and religious places, including mosques and churches in Jerusalem.
However, this art declined over the years in the holy houses, but it remained in the mosques and historic churches in the Holy City.
Ornaments in the Dome of the Rock
Abu Al-Saud said: “The Dome of the Rock Chapel in Al-Aqsa Mosque is the greatest trace in the world of the art of Arab decoration, and it is the correct definition of the word Arabesque. What we see in the Dome of the Rock from the outside, especially in the upper parts and verses of the Holy Koran, is an Ottoman restoration, where the damaged mosaics were replaced by the faience that currently exists.” .
He added, “Arabic calligraphy is part of the decorations, which developed over time, so we know that in the Umayyad era there was no reference in the language, so the verses were written without dots, and with the development of the Arabic calligraphy there became the Arabic decorative calligraphy, which is a beautiful line, and it was done in stages, in the Abbasid era, the Kufic script and other scripts appeared, and these fonts were integrated into the decorative fonts and took part became the Arabic decorative font.
He continued, “The houses in the city of Jerusalem had colored windows, and in the houses of the rich the colored windows were intense, but Jerusalem was subjected to several earthquakes throughout history, which resulted in the demolition of a large part of the external art that decorated the houses of Jerusalem, most of which were carved from wood and colored glass.” .
Abu Al-Saud became attached to this art from a young age and returned to practice it after his retirement, saying: “My uncle used to engrave on wood before 1967, and I learned it from him when I was 12 years old .”
“At that time, the Dome of the Rock mosque was being restored, and a team of artists came from Italy to restore the mosque’s windows,” he added.
And he added, “The children and I were playing in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and at that time I was looking at the work they were doing, and then I was working with them digging on plaster and hooked and loved this craft.”
Back to retirement
“However, due to education and work, I did not pursue this craft until I retired in 2013, as I wanted to renew my hobbies, so I returned to the Arabesque in conjunction with my continued writing for local newspapers, novels and theatre, where I wrote a group of novels based on the oral history of Jerusalem.”
He added, “I started reading a lot about Arabesque, and I visited many countries to learn more about this art, such as Andalusia, Egypt, Morocco and Turkey, and I hoped to visit Damascus or Aleppo, but I lots of pictures from there.”
“I visited Istanbul and other Turkish cities and saw the development carried out by the Turks during the period of Ottoman rule of the city of Jerusalem, including in the Dome of the Rock and other mosques,” he added.
The Palestinian artist was engaged in the study of Arabic art, through reading and live viewing, before he began to translate it into paintings.
“The study made me imitate the art of decoration with newly made paintings, most of which used machines and computers,” he said.
However, he added, “However, the craft of interlocking and coloring the glass remains the main element after the design and converting it into a language that is understood by the machine and the computer, and then with connecting glass or using colored glass and lighting. it internally. The lighting was through history through the sun, and the basis of glass was to give aesthetics to mosques and houses.” .
Christian Islamic art
Many mosques and churches in East Jerusalem still use this art to decorate their windows, relying on the reflection of sunlight on them to give them a great aesthetic.
There are some houses in the Holy City that still preserve this type of art for many years.
But the mashrabiyas, a wooden design that decorated the balconies of many houses, including the old city, have largely disappeared.
The mashrabiyas, with their designs and colors of glass, fascinate the viewer from outside, and with the reflected sunlight they give them an aesthetic atmosphere inside the houses themselves.
Abu Al-Saud explained, “The Islamic-Christian interference is present in Jerusalem, even in our decorations, and we know that in 1922-1924 the Church of Gethsemane was built in Jerusalem and called the Church of All Nations, with the participation of many countries in its construction, bringing artists from all over Europe.”
He added, “Artists were influenced by the art of the East, even in their construction and decoration of the church, and when the people of Jerusalem saw their work, they used it to decorate the houses of wealthy Palestinians. It is which we see. , for example, in the decorations of many houses in Nazareth, Acre, Ramleh and other cities.”
Abu Al-Saud displays his paintings on the ground floor of his house overlooking the Old City and Al-Aqsa, where he works and sells his paintings to finance the work of more paintings, which he says is an expensive job because of the special tools used in it.
dream and effort
“My project is a museum that reacquaints visitors with Arabic, Islamic and Christian engravings,” he said, noting that in this context he held exhibitions in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Hebron, and expressed his hope that his exhibition would be transferred to will be to other regions of the world.
Abu Al-Saud hopes that “a number of young people and artists in Jerusalem and Palestine will be trained to maintain this art, because the Israelis are trying to hijack the general look of the city of Jerusalem and give a more Jewish look to the to give city and its streets.”
He emphasized, “Our duty is to preserve the Arab, Islamic and Christian appearance in Jerusalem, in other words, to return the mashrabiyas or colored windows to the streets of the city, and this is a great job, but if this is done, the visitor will feel that he is in an Arab, Islamic, Christian city.”