Assyrian culture museum opens in Ainkawa

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Clothing displayed in the Directorate of Assyrian Culture and Traditional Art Museum in Ainkawa. Photo: Rudaw.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The Directorate of Assyrian Culture and Traditional Art Museum is now open in the township of Ainkawa in Erbil, and part of it is allocated for clothing from 18 Assyrian villages.

“This decoration is special for the areas of Alqush,” said Faruq Hanna Ato, the director of the museum.

Alqush is an Assyrian town in Northern Iraq. It is located 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of Mosul. Alqush has sat in the Bayhidhra mountains for more than 25 centuries.

Rudaw reporter Farhad Chomani asked: “Do all these ingredients used in painting and coloring the costumes belong to an old tradition?”

“Yes, all are made in the Jolaiy factory, these all are sewn with needle and thread,” answered Ato.

The majority of the Chaldean-Assyrian costumes are produced by hand. Signs mention other accessories, including letters in the Assyrian language and Babylonian flowers used in making the clothes that set them apart from today’s clothes.

Each of these 18 villages has exhibited its clothes in the museum. However, names of these costumes are very similar to the names of Kurdish clothing, and they have the same style of sewing as Kurdish clothing.

Ato continued: “It is very beautiful now in Kurdistan, without political reasons and other related things. We see Christian churches, Yezidi temples and Muslim mosques in a village in the Kurdistan region. A similar beauty can be seen here too—these traditional people want to protect their tradition.”

A priest’s vestment is one of the oldest costumes kept at the museum, and dates back 132 years ago.

“What we see in Kurdistan now is multiple political parties and multiple religious backgrounds—even if there are problems and shortcomings among ourselves—we are all the same. If we back each other during happiness we should back each other in hardship too,” he said.

The construction of the museum started in 2009. Since that time, traditional equipment and costumes of the Assyrian people have been collected for an exhibit in the museum.

“Now, we live at the Garsham camp in Ainkawa. We are very comfortable there; sometimes we get out for shopping and at the [Erbil] Citadel. Today I have come here. We want to see the Assyrian cultural museum. We are all one family, there is no difference,” said Mohammed Khalaf, a Yezidi refugee, who fled Shingal last year after ISIS took over.