Miniature houses: innovative handicraft [Archives:2006/919/Last Page]

February 9 2006
A view of miniature houses that resemble old sana
A view of miniature houses that resemble old sana’a city houses
By :Mohammed Al-Jabri
The beauty of the Old City in Sana'a has attracted and inspired the work of many artists and poets. The area has been immortalized in their paintings, poems and literary works. Its markets and neighborhoods also impress visitors to the city. What strikes them most is the way its houses and mosques are built.

Some have tried to portray the area by photographing its buildings, markets and neighborhoods and sending such images worldwide. Ten years ago, it occurred to some Yemeni craftsmen that it would be good to depict the Old City in the form of miniature houses.

The first such houses portrayed the area's most striking buildings and its famed Bab Al-Yemen (Yemen Gate) entrance. But later on, some craftsmen wanted to focus not only on Old Sana'a, but to depict other prominent Yemeni monuments like castles and other regional features.

The idea was welcomed greatly and thereafter, craftsmen began holding special workshops on making miniature houses. Both locals and tourists were eager for the models. Yemenis like to buy such houses as gifts and for special occasions. They like having miniature houses in their homes, often displaying them in the living room. Likewise, some businessmen prefer putting a model on their office desk.

Miniatures generally are made of plaster, which is poured into molds until it dries. Afterward, having taken the form of a house, the plaster is removed from the mold. The cast then is hand painted and windows and doors affixed, with the complete work resembling a real man-made construction. Miniatures vary in size from small to medium to large.