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Love for gemstones, an important part of traditional Iraqi culture

Iraqi street vendors display jewelry rings in the capital Baghdad on March 18, 2021. Photo: AFP

Baghdad, Iraq Photo: VCG

Baghdad, Iraq Photo: VCG

Walking down the narrow alleys near the traditional Al Rasheed Street in Baghdad, the capital of central Iraq, visitors are fascinated by the many fine jewels and ornaments displayed by the stalls and shops on both sides of the alley. I guess.

With their sparkling colors and exquisite designs, gemstones have captured the hearts of Iraqis for centuries and are part of their traditional and cultural heritage.

Gemstones are viewed by many Iraqis as more than beautiful ornamental stones and works of art, believing that they bring good luck, ward off evil, ward off danger, and even have healing powers.

“I have been involved in selling gemstones since 2010. There is great demand for gemstones such as Agate, Sulemani Hakik, Daudi, Abbasabad.Colorful stones, prayer beads and gem encrusted rings.

Kamel told Xinhua News Agency that the business is lucrative because buyers believe precious stones bring them good health and good luck.

Most of the gemstones on the market are imported from Iran, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and many other countries. Others are extracted from local mines in Najaf, Anbar province, about 160 kilometers south of Baghdad, and from mountainous areas in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan.

Gemstones sold in the market include red and blue sapphires, opals, emeralds, turquoises, onyx, crystals, jade, and lustrous quarts of the Quartz family from near the city of Najaf, where Kamel lived. It also contains Dur al Najaf, a transparent gemstone. Demand is said to be high.

Throughout Iraqi history, the gem’s enchanting luster and rarity have inspired many to acquire supernatural powers. This belief has gradually become an important part of local culture.

“People believe that Dur al-Najaf is a blessed stone because it is usually found only in the holy Shia city of Najaf…It is said to increase well-being and cure eye ailments. It is believed to be helpful,” Kamel added.

Fadhel Abbas, 45, who traveled about 100 kilometers to the gem market in Al Maidan, Baghdad, said he collects gems as a hobby.

“I used to come to the Al Maidan gem market every two or three weeks because I love gems,” he said.

“I have a large selection of gemstones, some of which are very expensive,” he added.

In his jewelry workshop, Isam Abu Haider said that gemstones are better if the seller associates them with ancient stories, customs, religious beliefs, historical events, or works of art, or if they resemble the shape of an animal. I mentioned that it may be sold at a price.

“Once, I got a stone that looked like a fish with a layered composition. It was very beautiful. I sold it for more than double the price. ,” added Abu Haider.

Mohamed Rashid, 45, was busy serving customers in his large alley shop. When he finally had time, he brought out dozens of beads of various colors.

“To me, gemstones are the best trading option due to the unstable political and social situation in Iraq, not to mention fluctuations in dollar values ​​and other precious metals,” Rashid told Xinhua.

“I think what they call gem therapy is a psychological effect that makes you feel good. To me, it’s a business and I’m also interested in the aesthetic aspects of gemstones and their benefits,” Rashid added. I was.

Xinhua News Agency