An Iraqi man looks at carpets at a textile workshop in the Iraqi city of Hilla, south of Baghdad on October 12, 2017.
/ AFP / SABAH ARAR
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In the shadow of the Imam Hamza Mosque in the region of the ancient kingdom of Babylon, a carpet market that was once bustling is now almost empty.Mehdi Saheb spent 50 years working at a loom and can speak for hours about the rich history and intricacies of carpet manufacturing in Iraq.Circles, squares and stylized animals or flowers: The symbols woven into Iraq's carpets can be traced back to the Babylonians who ruled there some 2,000 years before Christ was born, or the Assyrians who followed.Meanwhile, certain motifs represent the Jewish Star of David or Christian crosses, and others, found in mosques, are said to be Islamic.In many houses families jealously guard carpets passed down from their ancestors, while the offices of senior government officials or foyers of luxury hotels are often decorated with the traditional goods.Shopkeeper Soltani still has carpets on display that are more than 50 years old, but he struggles to sell many of his wares.
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