Retail Therapy, Syrian Style

23 May

There is nothing to buy in Amman. Sure there are shops and malls, amazing ones too. There are the usual designer boutiques: Louis Vuitton, Burberry…, all of the familiar mall brands: MAC, H&M, Gap, (no Anthropologie)…, but I cannot afford anything here because everything is about three times more expensive than what I’d pay at home. I suppose it’s a good thing that there’s nothing to buy because it makes Raj all the more willing when an opportunity to spend arises, as it did last week at the embassy.

Before arriving to Jordan, Raj and I discussed our desire to purchase some sort of furniture or artwork reflective of the region without going overboard with a middle eastern theme. The uprisings in Syria began shortly before Raj arrived, seriously impeding our travel plans to visit and buy Syrian furniture. The Syrian situation doesn’t seem to be getting any better so I’ve accepted the fact that Syria’s not in our future travel plans. Luckily for us though, a Syrian furniture salesman braved the border crossing to sell his wares at the Embassy.

I’ve been relatively good so far, limiting purchases to a couple of camel-hair rugs, some Arabic looking pottery, a brass lantern, a large mosaic, and now a Syrian chest and mirror to place in our foyer back in Old Town. I don’t know much about Syrian furniture, other than what the salesman shared and what I saw, but it seems to be easily identifiable through its use of walnut wood, mother of pearl inlay, and traditional Arabic design.

Detail of the mother of pearl inlay medallion

The mirror (set aside on the floor temporarily)

The guy arrived with a truck full of tables, chairs, armoires, a few chests, and a fantastic array of lanterns (these were amazing but were the first things to go). He got delayed crossing the border, creating a stir for the eager shoppers (money in hand) anxiously awaiting his arrival. He began unloading the truck while a small swarm of embassy employees pretended to feign interest, casually eyeing each piece as the packaging materials were removed. People began posturing and sidling up close to the things they liked, lest something better was to be revealed from the truck. I soon became afflicted with the buying frenzy as nearby shoppers discussed the worsening situation across the Syrian border and how this might be our ‘one and only’ chance to buy authentic Syrian furniture. I was determined to buy something, anything in case this was true. Cost and reason flew to wayside as one chest and then another were quickly spoken for. I swooped in on one of only two remaining chests and had Raj settle the price. (This guy had a captive audience so there wasn’t much in the way of haggling). We added in a mirror to be hung above the chest and sealed the deal.

The chest’s storage

The chest we bought has grown on me significantly since we brought it home. While it was sitting at the embassy, side by side among the other pieces, I was a little overwhelmed. I was having a hard time deciding whether I loved it or not because I felt the pressure to buy, buy, buy. I’m happy with the purchase. I can’t say we got a great price, but who knows? It’s beautiful without being overly ornate.

Top of surface of the chest

Side panel detail

Detail of mother of pearl inlay on mirror

Key to open chest

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28 Responses to “Retail Therapy, Syrian Style”

  1. Mom Mom's Apron May 23, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    Absolutely gorgeous! I’m insanely jealous!

  2. maggiescakepops May 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    OMG, that is gorgeous! Something you will have forever!

  3. La Deetda Reads May 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    A beautiful piece!

  4. Year of Living Craftily May 23, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    Wow, that’s lovely, and it also looks useful, which is the best combination! Good purchase :)

    • jenmaaninamman May 24, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

      Thanks. I’m not sure what I’ll be storing in it, but you’re right, it’s useful too.
      BTW, how’s your training for a marathon going? I remember reading something like that when I was checking out your about page.

      • Year of Living Craftily May 25, 2012 at 2:21 am #

        Thanks for asking :) Sadly, I have been recovering from some foot trouble that has prevented any serious running. Hoping to start some training again soon and run a half marathon in a few months.

  5. Fork in My Eye May 23, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    I agree. It’s beautiful.

  6. janice May 23, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    How about bringing back some beautiful,handmade Persian rugs! I do not know whether they are still available over there.

    • jenmaaninamman May 24, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

      I’m not sure. There are “oriental” rugs here made of silk, but I prefer the kilim types like the ones we bought.

  7. susartandfood May 23, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    Wow, so pretty!

  8. madamesaslow May 23, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    Beautiful piece with an interesting story to tell. If you just got to walk into a store and casually pick it from other pieces it wouldn’t have the same flare.

    • jenmaaninamman May 24, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

      I agree, but I would have loved to have gone to Syria to buy it along with a bunch of other stuff.

  9. MisfitMamaAtHome May 23, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

    Gorgeous!

  10. NTP May 23, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    Very pretty. Glad to hear that you didn’t haggle. The guy was risking his life. I hope it didn’t come from someone who died or was hurt in the fighting. Sorry to be Debbie Downer- just saying.

    • jenmaaninamman May 24, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

      On the bright side of your pessimistic outlook, with ALL of the money that he made off of us, he can use it toward a humanitarian cause to help his country.

  11. Joe Palumbo May 23, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    As they say in the Palumbo household, “things must be good”. Now they are saying that in the Maan household.. The treasures look great and the story you will be able to tell makes it even better.. My story would be that Raj had to fight the man to his death to get such a deal… I am sticking with my storyline.. Dad

  12. Ann Palumbo May 23, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    Jen, the chest and mirror are absolutely beautiful. What a treasure to be bringing home with you. Mom

    • jenmaaninamman May 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

      YOu’ll have to see it to truly admire the workmanship.

  13. The Vagabond Baker May 23, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    How beautiful, it will grace your home. It looks very exotic! It’s a shame you couldn’t buy it as a souvenir from Syria but hopefully one day you will get there. I loved reading this post xxx

    • maggiescakepops May 23, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

      I love reading your blog, too. As I sit on the porch in Raleigh, North Carolina, it’s fun to “see” another part of the world. Enjoy your new piece of furniture!

  14. unoscoiattoloindispensa May 24, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    that chest is so absolutely beatiful! I adore the detailing! lucky you!

  15. healthnhorizons May 26, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    Hi Jen, what a beautiful piece! Just letting you know that as I enjoy your blog so much, I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. http://healthnhorizons.com/2012/05/26/the-versatile-blogger-award/

    You can read about what you need to do here: http://versatilebloggeraward.wordpress.com/vba-rules/

    Congratulations!!!
    Please note, the award is completely optional and you do not have to accept.

  16. denise and sandy May 27, 2012 at 11:04 am #

    hi jen. thanks for liking our blog. yours is fascinating and we agree, retail therapy is great, especially when will wake up every day to see such a beautiful piece.

  17. thisisthecraftyone June 7, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    Hey, I’ve nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Award! I hope you take part, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to! Check out my post here http://thisisthecraftyone.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/a-little-bit-of-sunshine/

    • jenmaaninamman June 8, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

      Thank you so much! I’ll participate once I get home from vacation. All the best, Jen

  18. Kim M. Hatfield June 10, 2012 at 5:53 am #

    Beautiful! I love the deeper woods for furniture.

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