QAMISHLI : Inside a dusky and dark workshop on the banks of the Jagjagh river in northeast Syria, Misak Antranik Petros uses an ancient pottery wheel to throw different shapes from clay.

The 85-year-old potter of Armenian origin said his family has practised the craft for more than 450 years.

'' The profession was passed down from one generation to another like an inheritance,'' he said. ''Now my son is taking it up.'' His workshop is located inside an ''ancient mud brick house near the city of Qamishli, administered by Kurdish authorities who control much of northeastern Syria.

It is cluttered with pots, tools and classically shaped vases, mostly covered in dust.

Petros and his two sons spend most of their time in the humid space, heated by an old wood-burning stove.

''I don't like to clean the clay off my hands because I like the texture,'' he said.

Petros was only a teenager when he had to take over for his sick father and become the main potter of the family. He has since become a master of the craft, and is keen to pass the skills on.

''I am happy when I see the door of the workshop open and my son working inside,'' he said.

''This craft deserves to be preserved.'' Syria's. nine-year-long war has killed more than 387,000 people and displaced millions from their homes. Petros and his family were largely spared with their home and workshop dodging damage.

Of Petros's two sons - Anto and Yerevan - the former is likely to follow in his footsteps as a professional potter, especially after receiving training from his father. [AFP]


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