Prehistoric rock carvings and rock art have been found in several places around Qatar. Some of these drawing depict humans, animals (like turtles, ostriches, and fish), and boats while others were merely geometric and tribal designs.
There are a ton of other folk art styles. Weaving and dying fabric is common, especially in a Bedouin fashion. Typically sheep or camel wool is used while the dyes were made from herbs and other natural resources. Embroidery was also a common ornamental feature in clothing. Gold threads imported from India were frequently used. There were several different kinds of stitches used as well as designs like flowers and birds.
A certain amount of art and aesthetics went into their historical architecture as well. Although simply made, geometric shapes and symmetry were important decorative features in homes. Elaborately designed doors are frequently created from wood or metal. Much of their architectural design was created with the heat in mind, and windows were seldom used. Instead, they used other ways of ventilation. However, there were vertical windows that were designed to pull in wind and naturally cool the inside of the building. Colored glass is sometimes used as a decorative feature.
Although calligraphy has long been an art form, painting didn’t really gain popularity until after the oil boom struck. Common themes include Arabic and Islamic culture. In order to cultivate more artists, the government offered scholarships to young artists to study abroad, bringing back what they learned to share through exhibitions. Art museums and galleries were then built to preserve and promote Qatari art. Jassim Zaini is often considered the founder of the modern art movement; other artists of note include Faraj Daham, Wafika Sultan Al-Essa, Yousef Ahmad, Salman Al-Malik, and Hassan Al Mulla.
Historically, poetry has been an important part of literature and has been practiced for many centuries. During the 7th century, Qatari ibn al-Fuja’a was well known for his poetry and often considered a folk hero of sorts. Most poetry during was oral and performed during social events. The most common type of poem is the Nabati poem and passed down from generation to generation. Today, they’re still being read on radio and television. Women were also poets as well, but they mostly wrote laments called ritha, which served as elegies.
Modern literature, written in Arabic, didn’t really begin until the 1970s when they gained their independence from Britain. And this is one art form where females have been included pretty much equal to men from the beginning. What is amazing is that the first person to publish a book was a woman: Kaltham Jaber first published her anthology of short stories in 1978.
Up next: music and dance