‘However, the identity of Damascus as a holy city remained predominant, irrespective of political and stylistic changes.’
The yearly ceremony of the hajj
involved arduous preparation of the pilgrim caravans for a long and potentially dangerous journey through the desert on camelback. The procession out of Damascus was, therefore, a crucial moment to ensure security and to gain visibility for good governance. The Mahmal
al-Hajj headed the procession carrying emblems of the Ottoman caliph
, where a Westernised decorative language can be discerned filtering into a local decorative repertoire.
Such cultural and artistic innovations became ubiquitous by the early 14th/20th century. Qur'anic manuscripts painted with gold and enamel show a new sense of shading and colour. However, the identity of Damascus as a holy city remained predominant, irrespective of political and stylistic changes.