The bah-rah, a fountain-like water feature, once played an iconic and pivotal role in Syrian homes and courtyards. The focal point for social interactions within the household, it remains a symbol deep in the hearts of Syria’s diaspora.
The fountain’s transition into the modern world and a dispersed people is the focus of what is now becoming a permanent installation by the Syrian architect Talin Hazbar at Abu Dhabi’s Warehouse421, a center for modern art.
Hazbar is exploring history, identity and culture, not through books and literature, but using a historical symbol in a modern setting.
Her project looks at the concept of the bah-rah from Ottoman times, when it was a source of drinking water for those who could afford it, as well as a place for ritual ablutions, into its modern manifestations. It has also served as a sound barrier for confidential conversations, a cooling device, and, more recently, a decorative feature, Hazbar says.
The emotions and memories these symbolic pieces evoke among Syrians in diaspora have been poured into Hazbar’s research, a social project that evolved into what is now a permanent reminder of the importance of this cultural icon.