Tuesday, 2 August 2016

A Dress from the Souk

This is a story of Riyadh as it was many years ago. It's set in Souk Hiraj, an open air market running either side of Thumairi Street in the centre of old Diera.

Spencer W Tart, Watercolour Print, Ladies' Market, Middle East Art

At Souk Hiraj, Bedouin women sit cross-legged on the ground under large umbrellas. Second hand dresses are piled beside them and fall untidily out of old tin trunks. Scattered among the jumbled clothing are traditional jewellery and face masks decorated with beadwork, fringes, woven bands and coins. The air is filled with the distinctive fragrance of small bunches of basil, rosemary and jasmine, tucked into women’s dresses and held in place under headdresses. Behind the ladies’ market, goats and sheep wait noisily in pens to be sold. Still further along Thumairi Street is the men’s market where almost everything imaginable is for sale: thobes, bishts, old swords, guns, miswak. Cries of “Taille, taille,"  fill the air, each vendor trying to out-shout his neighbour and convince all and sundry that his wares are the best and the cheapest. There are children everywhere. Boys and girls play soccer with an old tin can. The roads are pot-holed and muddy and the dust covers everything.