PRESERVATION / 74development
G. Buccellati, February 2014

Development

(Im)possible plans...
The vigor of the women
The logo!
Dolls with a personality
Takers, anyone?


(Im)possible plans...

     We know that Ismail, Muhammad, Kameran, Diadin, Ibrahim would do their best to protect the site, carrying out their work, even if we were no longer able to remunerate them for their effort. But, far from even contemplating such a possibility, we have been working hard to make a case, even under the current circumstances, to develop a sustainability plan for Mozan and its area.

     It seems like an impossible plan to think of it now. But we do not accept the impossible. Precisely because things seem hopeless, we are leaning heavily on even the smallest strand of hope.
     In 2012 colleagues from the Office of the First Lady and the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums picked up where we could no longer be. They went several times to Mozan, and met in our house and in the villages with local people, especially the young people, to explain the notion of the Park. They gave this part of the project a beautiful name: The Gates of Urkesh.
     The lunch was prepared by the local women, Arab and Kurdish. And the message was conveyed that, even as events were overtaking the country, the Park was meant to serve as a beacon of light and hope – to be for sure implemented at some point in the future.
     Also in the summer of 2012, the provincial government began to implement a plan to which they had committed – to provide the villages in the Park area with running water. Here one can see the trenches and one of the boxes that house the valves for the distribution of the water to the first village chosen, that of Mozan itself.
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The vigor of the women

     One of the goals of the DGAM visit was to encourage local activities that could eventually develop into a venue of interest to visitors. Our colleagues selected two houses between the villages and the tell, and the owner made them available at no charge to local women – the sign above the door proudly proclaiming that these were the “Gates of Urkesh.”
     The rooms were set up with care to house the products being produced, as if in a store ready for visitors.
     There are photographs, as if in a Museum; and even a plaque to honor the individuals who contributed, especially Mr. Hamdan Abd el-Razzaq al-Shellal who allowed the group to use the Atelier at no cost. So even in Mozan we have a named building!
The Gates of Urkesh project for social development based on cultural heritage thanks all the volunteers from Umm er-Rabia and Mozan villages who participated in the accomplishment of this work.
A special thanks to Mr. Hamdan Abd al-Razzaq al-Shallal for offering to the Urkesh workshop the use of the houses at no cost.
     The room was also meant to be used as a workshop. We call it “atelier,” and it is that part of the Gates Urkesh project that takes care of the production.
     Through their own initiative, the women set it up as a well organized system, with instructions and schedules spelled out on the chalkboard in the background.
     We are now beginning to interface more directly with it so as to maximize its potential.
     By all standards, this is a remarkable accomplishment.
     The thrust comes from the base, with a strong sense of commitment and purpose. The women of Urkesh – Urkesh is the ancient name, but we use it for the larger enterprise that subsumes the villages around the archaeological site. So, it is the women of “Urkesh” who have picked up with vigor where no more guidance could be provided from the outside.
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The logo!

     The project has become a model of initiative at the grass root level.
     We can now be partners in their initiative. And we have found a way. We have “ordered” a number of items produced by them, and have received our first shipment – courtesy of Mr. Samer Kabawat of Skynet in Damascus. It was with great emotion that we opened this modest little package. They had placed products inside a typical black garbage bag, and sent them to Damascus, from where they were in turn sent abroad.
     The quality of these products is no less astonishing than the simple fact that they were produced and shipped under the circumstances we all know so well. We are now preparing ways to make them available to our common friends, and to place an order for more.
     It is remarkable how much attention our Urkesh craftsmen – well, reallay, craftswomen! – have given to details. Look at the packaging and the logo! Some of the items are carefully wrapped in a bag with a burlap backing and a cellophane cover. In the corner, a beautiful logo, which uniquely identifies the project, and gives in beautiful handwriting the name of the “Urkesh Atelier of Handicrafts” and their telephone number!...
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Dolls with a personality

     The choice of material and the attention to the details are matched by the skill with which individual faces are rendered.
     Truly, each doll stands out as having a personality of its own!






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Takers, anyone?

     After receiving the shipment from Urkesh (indeed, it seemed to come from a remoteness in time, not only in space...), we modeled some of the items, to make it easier to appreciate them even in a photograph...
















     How can one resist?...



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