Sand art in Jordan
He puts a little sand of beige color, which acts as a background, in a small bottle and then slowly adds another colored sand. His skilled fingers are at work! He adds every new color with a thin stick or a funnel. Meticulously he ‘paints’ the parts of that color in the picture, only occasionally glancing at it.
While the silent fingers are doing their magic, he asks me where I come from and such. Polite and soft spoken as he is, he knows how to engage a visitor. As the conversation continues, I too ask him a few questions starting with his name.
He is 25 years old Ayman Amarat from Wadi Mousa village in Petra. Ayman belongs to a small tribe which makes vases from sand and glass. He has graduated in archaeology and wants to do something in the same field. He has acquired the skills of sand art from his father and has been practicing since last 8 years. He started learning English from 5th standard and now knows French, Italian besides English.
Ayman continues till the image is ready and then fills up the bottle with the background colored sand before closing it tightly. I gaze at the bottle. A camel and a few trees appear in a landscape. I can’t believe my eyes. How is it possible to make a perfect picture in a narrow-necked bottle just by looking at a photo? I smile. Another bottle has a face on it. These bottles have the ability to convey interesting stories.
This time it was his turn to smile. 🙂 Says, there is no limit on what you can draw once you learn how to do it. Funnels replace brushes, bottle replaces the canvas and different colored sands take the place of paint!
The colors are from the multicolored sand rocks that is found everywhere in Petra, the world wonder city and which makes the city so unique! And that is where it all started by Bedouins during the early 20th century. The glass sand art bottles reflect the essence craft, art and life of Petra.
Seeped from history, this art has become one of the most admired activity of Jordan. The artistically appealing craft was inspired by the multi-colored sand and rocks found in the Petra Mountains. Creative designs, mostly inspired by local scenes and camels, grew in popularity during 1940s. The decorated bottles found from that period of time tell us that.
Ayman says, the artists of earlier time also developed the sand art skill to determine what can be drawn using two things; colored sand which they had in abundance and recycled bottles and jars. It started from basic layers to almost anything; new colors and new tools were introduced to the artist. The products revive the folk culture art mixed with modern designs.
The bottled art can be seen everywhere in Jordan & has now traversed to many other countries but what I saw in Petra is definitely original and above all.
Learners learn the art in a fun way. Places where the colored sand isn’t available, the sand is mixed with powder paint or food color to create different hues. The sand thus mixed is poured into different shaped bottles and jars in order to form designs and colorful layers.
Sand art is considered a good souvenir and is available in many sizes.
You don’t need to visit Wadi Rum to be transported to the enchanting world. You can get the essence of the Jordanian desert right on the streets of Petra … in a bottle! 😀
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