Ahmad Shakaki works on a wooden loom at his brokade shop in Damascus. AFP PHOTO / LOUAI BESHARA
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In old Damascus, war threatens Syrian handicraftsIn his cramped workshop in Damascus, Mohammad Abdullah delicately etches away at wooden panels inlaid with mother-of-pearl, a craft he perfected over a decade before the outbreak of Syria's war. Like many other craftsmen, Abdullah was forced to abandon his spacious warehouse on the outskirts of Damascus when fighting broke out.The war has also taken a toll on the country's renowned traditional craft, from ornate wooden furniture to the rich, golden stitching of its famed brocade fabrics.In 2009, Syrian craftsmen registered with the national union had numbered some 18,000, alongside an estimated 39,000 who were unregistered, Fayyad says.By the end of 2015, between 70 and 80 percent had left the trade, many emigrating after the destruction of their workshops around Damascus and in the northern city of Aleppo, another handicrafts hub, according to Fayyad.As it nears a sixth year, Syria's conflict has also diminished the production of Damascene brocade, hand-woven silk fabric ornately decorated with brightly colored thread.
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