Al QAMARIAH:A Yemeni Cultural Ornament & Source of Light [Archives:2004/766/Last Page]

August 23 2004

Ismail Al-Ghabiri
AL QAMARIAH is the name given in Yemeni culture to a curved opening directly above the windows. Al Qamariah, is believed to be a name deriving from its function, i.e. to allow light into rooms, especially moonlight during moonlit evenings when, in the past, alternative means of light were scarcely available.
Al Qamariah has passed through several developmental stages, in its form, volume and its purpose. Today, it has become of significance in terms of beauty whereas, in its earlier stages, Al Qamariah was just an arch with more vertical length than horizontal, and not given as much consideration as nowadays. This Arch used to encircle a piece of man made or a crystal alabaster allowing sun-rays to come into the room.
The alabaster piece was usually brought from far away and was extremely restricted in availability to Wadi Dhahr which is close to the capital Sanaa and al-Mahweet Governorate. As the quarries from which the materials were extracted became exhausted and in order to keep up with the pace of demand for AL Qamariah, the materials were gradually replaced by colored glass imported from abroad, which did not affect the traditional character which distinguishes the Yemeni Al Qamariah.
In the past, this Al Qamariah used to be made of plaster and took the form of drawings and embroidered shapes, which is continued in the glass. Care is given to the location and variety of such Al Qamariah which differ from room to room; the Al Qamariah for the most prominent room, which is called al-Mufraj and which receives the guests, is of a good quality as well being the most suitable in size.
Al Mahweet is well known for making such Al Qamarias in different types and shapes. Al Mahweet has been distinguished by Yemeni culture since ancient times, not only for its heritage of traditional characters which makes it a special scene for Yemen visitors to see, but also for its Al Qamariah construction which is famed for its colored mosaic engravings, decorative and artistic ornaments of beauty.
Al Qamariah touches upon that ancient reflection whilst linking to modern artistic forms by interconnecting colors – a mixture that distinguishes its Arab-Islamic features. Al Qamariah is an art inherited and passed on from father to son, from generation to generation. This art has passed through different stages of development, the most significant of which is the addition of carvings which offered additional benefits. They are inlets for light, but they also restrict those on higher places from seeing into the rooms. Al Qamariah is always above the window; its adds beauty to the decor of buildings and is a genuine feature of Yemeni art.
Yemeni buildings are exclusively distinguished by the colored arches which often look like full color paintings. The benefits are particularly clear when light shines through its openings and bright colors and attractive patterns are projected inside, enhancing interior decoration.
Al Qamariah is certainly considered as one of the most original and defining – not to mention beautiful – forms of Yemeni art and culture.