Tuesday 28 May 2024

Merchants of Old Aleppo

Marwa al-Sabouni, The Battle for Home: The Memoir of a Syrian Architect (New York: Thames & Hudson, 2016), p. 53:

The merchants of Old Aleppo believed on religious grounds that you are blessed by being good to your neighbours, and that you earn your place in the community – such is what true belonging consists in. This is exactly what was perpetuated by the architectural configuration: facing and adjoining shops, a shared route under one ceiling that united them, and one sky above them all. The merchants had small chairs to sit on outside their shops once they opened in the morning. When a merchant had sold his first item, he would bring his chair inside as a sign. When another customer entered, he would then stretch his head out over his wooden counter to see if any chairs remained outside. If he saw one, he would direct the customer towards it, so as to benefit his less fortunate neighbour.