39. Milakak


c. 1900s CE
c. 1317s AH
Donated by a family in Mecca, 2014

I am the Milakak. Small, a strange size – even an impractical size, you might say – painted by a family in Mecca, I am used perhaps for tea. My function may be slightly mysterious, yet you cannot live without me. I am a sculpture for the home, a design classic. My wood is dyed special colours that are natural to Mecca: henna and charcoal. They say I originate from the pilgrims of India and South Asia, but now I am a true symbol of Mecca and the Meccan family home.

This work transcends the objects. Ultimately, what I’m working with isn’t only the artefacts themselves, but the stories attached to them. For me, each tale is the manifestation of the object, and each object is a tangible materialisation of an underlying narrative. The work finds its equilibrium somewhere between the stories and chronology they’re chaptered into, the objects becoming knots or points along the timeline, woven into stories as part of the language of this artwork. Each story draws out a tale that intends to trigger imagination and memory, mixing fact with fiction, with the ultimate aim of straddling, conflating and confusing fixed notions of history to open up the unofficial histories that shape the character of place and memory.
Ahmed Mater
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