Syria Arts and Literature


After early attempts at authoring from the end of the 19th century, the fictional prose first became an accepted art form in the 1930’s. Key year is 1937, when the first mature Syrian novel, “The Greed” (not in Swedish translation) by Shakib al-Jabiri was published, and in 1944, when the short story collection, “A wound of history” (not in Swedish translation) by Fuad ash-Shaib was published. The literary direction that has had the greatest influence in Syrian prose is realism. In the 1950’s, the term “literature for the people” became the breeding ground for realistic, socialist literature. However, symbolic and absurd stories have also been written. Significant writers whose works have also been translated into European languages are Hanna Mina, Zakariyya Tamir and Ghada as-Samman.

Syria Population Pyramid

  • Countryaah: Population and demographics of Syria, including population pyramid, density map, projection, data, and distribution.


Syrian film production dates to the silent film era. Rasheed Jalal’s “The Innocent Suspect (1928) is said to be the first feature film, but it was not until after Syria’s independence before a systematic film production came into being under the supervision of the national film organization (established in 1963). Comedian couple Dureid Lahham (born 1934) and Nuhad al-Qala’i were long-time audience favorites, but soon the country also became known for its documentary films. Iraqi-born Qays al-Zubeydi (born 1939) did a series of documentaries on Palestinian refugees while Omar Amiralay (born 1944; “Everyday Life in a Syrian Village, 1974) directed the camera at the indigenous population.

The 1980’s saw a new generation of feature film directors make their mark: Muhammad Malas (born 1945; “Dreams of a City, 1983), Oussama Muhammad (born 1954;” The Box of Life “, 2002) and Abdullatif Abdulhamid (born 1954;” Breeze of the Soul §, 1998).

Among younger directors, especially Diana el-Jeiroudi (born 1977) has distinguished herself with the feature film “The Pot”, 2005).

In the 1990’s, the national film organization became the only biofilm producer, since the private almost completely switched to television production. Syria annually produces 1-3 films.

Arts and crafts

The oldest Islamic art in Syria developed from a rich frontal Oriental, Late Antiquity and Byzantine heritage in close connection with developments in both Iran and Iraq as well as Egypt. The early glass production of mainly glassware continued the Roman traditions in the area. During the Ayyubids, a significant production of gilded and enamelled glass with rich d谷cor, especially goblets, was developed, and in the 13th-13th century came large-scale mosque lamps with gold and enamel decor made primarily of Damascus. Already during the Umayyads, the metal crafts were of high quality, both technically and artistically. During the 13th to 14th centuries, the technology was developed into artificially engraved and inlaid objects with geometric and floral decor, figure scenes and characteristic calligraphic borders in large format. A special metal technique was damasking, used mainly in the manufacture of weapons. During the 1100’s, ar-Raqqa became the center of ceramic production with a large production of objects with painted, black decor under turquoise, green, violet and blue glaze. From Aleppo came early artificially designed woodwork. In recent centuries, Syria has been the center of a large production of precious wood furniture with ivory and mother-of-pearl intarsia.

Among the oldest visual art of Islam is the Mosaics of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus from the beginning of the 7th century. The now fragmentary picture suites show landscape motifs with buildings, tall trees and rivers, probably paradise representations. In the desert palace Qasr al-Hayr-al-Gharbi there are preserved floor and wall paintings from the 7th century. The visual arts were developed from the 13th century mainly in the illustrations for scientific and epic works. Syria has maintained a high tradition of craftsmanship, especially in metal crafts, fabrics and embroidery, and in silver and gold forging. The National Museum of Damascus has the country’s largest collection of Islamic art.


Damascus and Aleppo were already important centers of Arabic art music during the early Islamic period. The Syrian area was also the area of origin for several East Christian liturgies (see Syrian liturgies). This “Syrian” church music is basically based on the same modal principles as the maqam tradition (compare maqam), but is exclusively vocal. The Christians also played a prominent role in Arabic-language art music, where instruments such as ud, nay and qanun were cherished. During the interwar period, Syrian musicians were greatly influenced by Western art music, and this influence was reinforced during the bathing regime, which sought to create a national Syrian culture on the basis of the general Arabic maqam tradition. See also Arabic music.

Syria Arts and Literature