91. Mecca Ommammh


Originating from 2000 BCE
Bought in Mecca, 2015

I am a symbol of your tribe, the only sign of your origins when everyone is dressed in white. Wrapped around your head, keeping it warm in winter and cool in the summer heat and sweat, we have many different colours, patterns and textures. You can see us at weddings and celebrations as we dance, colour weaving through colour. We are also there at council meetings or religious disputes – different groups adopt us to represent their schools. Those of the Shia or the Sheikhs of Yemen are black, making it easier for the guards to keep an eye on them. I am the most important of all, orange-brown in colour, dating back to the days of the Qu’reishi. People are proud to wear us when they wander through the streets, for otherwise who would know which man belongs and which is just passing through?

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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