Sep 19, 2012

One man's 13-year friendship with folklore

Saeed Barani observes the antiques he has collected./GLOBE PHOTO/Shvan Goran

The Kurdish Globe
By Shvan Goran--Bardarash-Duhok

As you enter the room, you are struck by the amount of old antiques and interesting looking tools laid out against every wall side
Saeed Barani is a man from Bardarash district -- Duhok province. He has been collecting folklore antiques for more than a decade. He hopes that one day a museum will open in the town where he can put all the antiques he has collected. We started asking Barani questions about his hobby and he was more than delighted to answer:

Globe: How can you describe your first step towards this hobby?

Barani: My family were famers and when I was a child most of these tools that I've saved now were being used in their daily life. Then, after I visited Mosul Museum several times, as I was studying at College of Arts there, the idea came to me that I should take steps to collect these tools and save them from being lost and damaged. I started looking for them in villages. I've visited 20 out of the 88 villages of Bardarash area to ask them for these old antiques. Thankfully most of them were helpful and gave me what they had.

Globe: How long have you been collecting folklore antiques?

Barani: It's been more than 13 years since I started collecting these antiques and traditional tools. There are about 230 various pieces. The tools and antiques were being used in farming, decorating houses and other daily purposes in the past, especially by the farmers and villagers.

Globe: Wasn't it difficult at first? Who supported you?

Barani: Of course it was difficult, at first some people were making fun of the work I was doing. My parents supported me and believed in what I was doing. And then my teacher Dr. Abdul Fattah Botany encouraged me to take responsibility of this duty.

Globe: What obstacles have you faced in collecting these antiques?

Barani: There were in fact, many obstacles. I had to visit the distant villages one by one and persuade the people that the antiques and tools will be saved if they gave them to me. Another problem, which I still face, was lack of suitable places for saving and preventing the tools and antiques from damage. At first, I put the antiques in my house, then I moved them to a dark place in Bardarash stadium, I was then obliged to move them for the third time to a room in a Sports and Youth Center in Bardarash. Unfortunately, some of them have been damaged because of the humidity of the places and constant moving from one place to another.

Globe: What is the oldest piece that you've saved so far?

Barani: I have a pair of women shoes that are 80 years old. They're made of natural leather with a curved front and have some drawing on them. I have other tools that were being used for agricultural and domestic purposes, and some of them for decorating, most of which belong to decades ago.

Globe: In your opinion, what should be done for protecting these kinds of antiques in Kurdistan?

Barani: I think that these antiques should be collected at first, then shown in special museums and classified according to their types and the time they were used. Protecting these antiques shows how civilized our people are.

Globe: To what extent have people of and around Bardarash district helped you collecting and protecting them?

Barani: Most of them have helped me. Even if they don't help me, they're not creating obstacles for me. I appreciate the people who have trusted me and given me their antiques.

Globe: What about the government's support?

Barani: Actually the government should have been more concerned about the efforts I have made to protect these antiques, because they belong to our ancestors and are part of our culture. Fortunately, the government has recently promised me to open a folklore museum. When The Governor of Duhok Mr. Temer Ramadan visited Bardarash District several months ago, he decided to allocate a sum of money and a piece of land for building a folklore museum. I hope that Bardarash Mayoralty implement the decision as soon as possible.

Globe: Who do you think is responsible for protecting these antiques, people or government?

Barani: People don't have the ability to do so. The government should take the responsibility to protect them.

Globe: Did you show these antiques in any galleries or cultural activities?

Barani: I have shown them in more than 10 gallery shows and cultural festivals in Bardarash District and Akre city so far. Several TV programs have interviewed me on this subject.

Globe: To what extent do you think Bardarash area is rich in terms of Folklore?

Barani: The majority of the area's lands are plain; the people have been depending on agriculture as their major income for more than 200 years. That's why they used various types of tools for cultivating and harvesting in the past. The characteristics of this area in terms of folklore are not so different from the other areas in Duhok and Kurdistan.

Globe: What should be done to Kurdish folklore so as to be relived?

Barani: I think Folklore should be relived every 30 years. Just like we had a specific day for wearing Kurdish clothes this year, I think we should have a day dedicated to Kurdish folklore as well. This can be done through various cultural activities. Otherwise neighboring folklores and civilizations impose themselves upon the national folklore and will hence weaken it.

Globe: Why do you think these antiques are no longer used by people? Is it their negligence to the folklore or the technology impact?

Barani: Technological development has a great impact on putting these tools aside, and using new tools instead. Nevertheless, people should not forget their past. These tools have been used by our ancestors; we should at least keep them alive and protect them.

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