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Souvenirs from Iraq

Searching for souvenirs from Iraq can be an adventure of the senses, as you visit the artisan workshops in the marketplaces. Stalls of aromatic and colorful spices, teas, coffees, and sweet treats tempt you to purchase edible presents for friends and family, or yards of fabric made from all kinds of materials, with different textures and finishes, will entice you to have a few new pieces of clothing made. The loud noises coming from the coppersmith, as he hammers sheets of copper into bowls, pots and pitchers, is quite loud, but well worth the results. You can enjoy a cup of coffee as you chat with a rug seller, learning more about how each won is hand-woven into different patterns. Calligraphic paintings, woven baskets, musical instruments, magnets, ceramic replicas of famous buildings, key chains, tooled leather belts and bags are just a few of the crafts that make wonderful Iraqi souvenirs.

Music in the Iraqi Desert

Iraq has a rich tradition of artistic activity, most especially in the realm of music. The maqam musical heritage is an Iraqi oral tradition that been passed down through the ages, consisting of a singer and 3 musical instruments: a drum, fiddle and box zither. Typically, the maqam al-Iraqi performs sung poems that are taken from the Arabic or Iraqi tradition. This form of music is considered to be part of the "intangible heritage of humanity" by UNESCO, an international organization which preserves traditions and culture. Other endemic instruments are the stringed oud and rebab, often used in modern music. Interestingly enough, in the early 20th century, instrumentalists and singers were often divided by religious lines. The most established instrument players tended to be Jewish, who would play for Muslim and Christian singers. The reason for this was the establishment of a music school for blind Jewish children in the 1920s.

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