This week we wanted to put the spotlight on ‘Spirit of Syria’, a visual heritage project designed and created by Syrians to preserve the tangible and intangible aspects of their social, physical and emotional identity in the face of over six years of violent conflict. Spirit of Syria creates short videos, each designed to provide insight into an area of Syrian heritage and address a cultural past that is fading.

Much like we celebrate Syria’s rich food culture through our monthly Syrian Supper Clubs, so does Spirit of Syria celebrate the country’s unique cultural heritage. With this in mind, we wanted to write a little about who they are and what they do.

Five films have been produced so far, each one exploring an aspect of this unique cultural heritage. These include the tradition of mosaic making (فسيفساء), olive oil soap production (صابون الغار), rug weaving (نول), narkile glass blowing (النفخ في الزجاج) and wooden mother-of-pearl boxes (موزاييك).

In the future, Spirit of Syria intends to use social media feedback from these videos to shape the content of subsequent films, drawing from a wide range of subjects: folklore, recipes, crafts, buildings, festivities, music, games, art, poetry and others. Inn time viewers themselves may contribute content, be it audio, visual or written.

Spirit of Syria’s audience includes both those remaining inside Syria keeping traditions alive, as well as those across the Syrian diaspora who seek to maintain both their sense of cultural identity, and to preserve the hope of return. The videos can also be used to help the populations of countries, to which large numbers of Syrians have migrated, understand Syrian culture and heritage. Further down the line, Spirit of Syria aims to run training courses and provide equipment to nurture creative talent inside Syria or within the Syrian diaspora in neighbouring countries.

Definitely give them a look, and let us know what video you’d like to see being made! At Hands Up, we’re canvassing for one on the art of Bakdash-making – Syria’s famous ice cream