Practices and craftsmanship associated with the Damascene rose in Al-Mrah
Inscribed in 2019 (14.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
The practices and craftsmanship associated with the Damascene rose are mainly practised by farmers and families in Al-Mrah village, in rural Damascus, who possess expert knowledge of producing essential oils and traditional medicine from the Damask Rose, among other things, as well as the village community and families who organize the yearly Damascene Rose Festival. The Damascene Rose begins to bloom in May when the picking commences and the annual festival kicks off. Farmers and their families head to the fields in the early morning to handpick the roses and then return home by afternoon, when the whole family helps sort the rose buds that are dried to make tea. The other rose petals are stored and prepared for distillation. The women of the village help each other make rose syrup, jam and pastries as they sing along to local tunes. Apothecaries sell the dried Damascene Rose for its numerous medicinal benefits. The festival attracts people from many surrounding villages who come to take part and enjoy the atmosphere. Rose-infused dishes are presented by women and a collection of folk songs and incantations celebrating the Rose are sung by all. The festival is a testament to the element’s unfading cultural significance for its bearers and their enduring commitment to its safeguarding.
- Planting the Damas rose in October by digging a medium depth hole and placing a seed. Farmers surround the seed with dirt and support the area on three sides until the roots hold together.
- Family members out in the fields pick the roses in the early morning taking their lunch and drink to work.
- The distillation of the roses through copper distilleries called Alkirkh placed over a fire after adding water to the petals and waiting for the boil. Rose water is then placed in vials until it is ready for use.
- Buds are placed in a wide and open place to be well mitigated and later used in herbal medicines to be sold to store owners at the old Buzuriyah souk.
- Rose is considered the most important maize products from the medical, cosmetic and food products for its health benefits, consumed by Syrians, generation after generation.
- Residents of Al Marah village hold an annual festival to celebrate the Damask rose harvest with the attendance of civil societies and governmental officials, honouring the farmers and bearers of the element who sing along to song during the harvest.