Alexandre J, the brand known for crafting beguiling scents and perfumes, has brought the Damascene Mahmal, a 120-year old treasure to Dubai to coincide with the holy month of Ramadan. The breathtaking piece is at the centre stage at The Dubai Mall Souq Atrium from July 9th to August 15th 2013.
The Mahmal, crafted out of ornate silver and gold calligraphy on silk, was designed for camelback, and was used to carry the Kiswah of the Holy Ka’aba in Mecca. The Kiswah is the black cloth that covers in full the Ka’aba: it is draped annually on the 9th day of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah (Zu Al-Hijja), the day pilgrims leave for the plains of Mount Arafat during the Hajj.
Originally commissioned by Sultan Abdulhamid II of the Ottoman Empire who reigned from 1876 AD to 1909 AD as the 99th caliph of Islam and 34th sultan of the Empire, the Mahmal’s tent-like shape is adorned with fine handcrafted and embroidered decoration made with heavy and elegant silver and gold thread calligraphy backed with red, green, and yellow silk.
Alexandre J, the man behind the brand is a decisively contemporary French designer, artist, and modern and ancient art enthusiast who want to share his vision with the world. His aim in bringing the Mahmal to Dubai is part of his ethos of appreciating and sharing timeless creations imbued with significance and historic value.
“This Mahmal is not just gorgeously crafted, but also has a historic and cultural significance that extends far beyond passing fads. The purpose of bringing this exquisite piece and displaying it at the Dubai Mall is to share a work of great beauty that also has religious connotations,” said Alexandre J.
The calligraphy on the Mahmal uses strong thuluth inscription characterized by curved letters written with barbed heads in thick silver wiring, some of which are densely coated in gold. The interplay of the letters creates an impression of complexity and constant movement.
Alexandre J’s philosophy has always been to appreciate timeless perfection. The man, and the brand, shies away from passing trends and frenzied auto-mechancial pace to pay homage to genuine craftsmanship and artistry. Alexandre has always extended this philosophy to his art and perfume creations, and wants to share this ethos with the world”
Each of the Mahmal’s four top corners is topped by a copper head, with the centre apex plated in silver and wrapped with a small flag inscribed with the shahada: “There is no god but God; Muhammad is the messenger of God”.
“The piece of art takes the spotlight at the Dubai Mall at the right time, in the holy month of Ramadan. Not only will patrons get to enjoy a piece of beauty tremendous cultural and religious significance, but also tranquilly reflect on what it means. It is a message that the hectic pace of here and now is sometimes less important than timeless art and history,” added Alexandre J.