Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Art in Bahrain is like a snapshot representation of the Middle East. The architecture is characterized by geometric designs which are seen in many Islam-inspired buildings. Many buildings contain arches that come to a point at the top, whether it be doorways or windows or just decorative designs. Depending on where these beautiful building designs are located within the building, their architectural designs may also be created for a more practical reason: naturally cooling the home in the intense heats of the summer. One building that utilizes this technology is the Bahrain World Trade Center building, a twin tower that I think is shaped like a sailboat with three huge wind turbines in between the two towers. The building and these turbines are strategically placed to best tap into the massive amounts of wind energy to provide power to the entire building. To me, it's a great sign of renewable energy.

Bahrainis have also carved their niche in painting, sculpture, pottery, handicrafts, photography, as well as other mediums. Like many East Asian countries like Japan and China, calligraphy is also an old art form. Some of the styles and techniques used reminds me of pinstriping (something I'm desperately trying to learn, if it wasn't so humid). Some artists incorporate different colors to add dimension to their work.

At one time, before oil became king in Bahrain, the natural pearl industry here produced some of the world's most coveted pearls. Some think it may be because of the fresh water that mixes with the salt water in the waters around the islands of Bahrain. The industry today has decreased a lot in size since its glory days, but pearl jewelry and other decorative textiles using pearls are still popular in Bahrain.

Traditional literature in Bahrain tends to follow a classical Arabic style. Poetry is immensely popular. A few contemporary poets include Qassim Haddad, Ibrahim al'Urayyid, and Ahmad Muhammed al Khalifah. Some of the younger writers tend to be more influenced by Western free verse and other styles.

One poet that I liked is Qassim Haddad. He is an influential poet on Bahraini literature and is the founder of the Bahraini Writers' Union. (His son Muhammad Haddad is a notable film composer.) His metaphoric style forces the reader to see other meanings in the words, or to look at it from a different angle, usually looking backwards. I found some excerpts of some poems, but I really like this line from Haddam: "Wine in half the cup, the other half was not empty; it was lost in ecstasy." Ok, here are a couple others: "Be prepared... the past is coming," "I write about love the way a child draws his impressions of adulthood," and finally I'll leave off with "To write is to breathe unused air." 

Up next: music and dance

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