A view of the courtyard of a traditional Basra house with "shanasheel," finely crafted bay windows complete with intricate wooden lattices and stained glass, December 18, 2017.
AFP / Haidar Mohammad Ali
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As a child, Adnan Khalaf used to marvel at Basra's "shanasheel," finely crafted bay windows complete with intricate wooden latticework and ornate stained glass. Today, the Iraqi retiree can only watch as the hallmarks of his hometown – "the city of shanasheel" – crumble from neglect.At 71, Khalaf remembers it well. He can still name the city's wealthy old families – Jewish, Christian and Muslim – whose traditional homes along the canals of Basra's Old City were adorned by elaborate shanasheel.Whenever King Faisal II, Iraq's last monarch, visited Basra, he would stay with the governor on the river running through the city.Like elsewhere in Iraq, power cuts in Basra are chronic.In another rare success story, the home of Basra's most famous poet, Badr Shakir al-Sayyab, has also been saved with funding from local authorities.
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