Travel Souvenirs from Around the World: Damascus, Syria
Some travel souvenirs remind you of the world, others tell a story that goes back in time.
This is called kabkab, the Arabic word for clogs. And this souvenir is a mini kabkab. You slide one on the thumb, the other on the first finger and you click them like finger cymbals.
Clogs aren’t usually associated with the ancient metropolis of Damascus which makes this souvenir a piece of cultural history. The inscription in Arabic bears the name of a renowned fictional character, Ghawar al-Tawsheh, who enjoyed cult popularity status during the seventies. Ghawar featured in a Syrian television series called Sah el Nawm (Good Morning) which followed his farcical pranks every week in order to attain the woman he loves.
Delivered in a slapstick comedy style, Ghawar who wore a tarboush (fez) and clunky clogs (kab-kab), got up to all sorts of mischief but remained a lovable character. The Syrian actor who played him, Duraid Lahham, started his career as a university professor before he became synonymous with Ghawar. According to his website, his character remains as the most popular fictional character in the 20th century throughout the Arab World.
To understand the relevance of the clogs, I found this YouTube video. The song features Ghawar behind bars singing Fatoum Fatoumeh, an Arabic version a popular and traditional Armenian song Karoun Karoune.
From the souks of Damascus to the songs of Armenia, from unconventional clogs to YouTube clips, this is a souvenir that recounts a cultural story from the past.
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