The old houses in Slemani’s centuries-old bazaar have a beautiful and distinct architecture to them, but are so little in number that they are barely visible. Parallel to the beauty of these houses are flat parking lots and bland commercial buildings in abundance and can be seen everywhere. This stark contrast led me to ask around about the old houses and it did not take a lot of time to find out that the lack of old houses is related to the abundance of parking lots and commercial buildings. This raised the question that I wanted to explore in this oral history project and that is: why were most of the old houses in the Slemani bazaar not preserved but were rather left free to be destroyed and made into parking lots or new commercial buildings? I argue that due to a neglectful government that did not give out a lending hand and non-existing laws to protect these houses as cultural sites, there was an exposed gap that could be easily exploited by anyone who cared to do so. This gap secured the tragic fate of most of these houses leaving only a few around. However, I showcase a few recent efforts that offers a glimmer of hope by preserving some houses while at the very least documenting the one's that are bound to be torn down.
Saman Ihsan Fuad
Primary Investigator at Kashkul, the Center for Arts and Culture at the American University of Iraq Sulaimani, Iraq (AUIS). Graduated 2019 from AUIS with a major in Business Administration and a minor in English Literature.
Saman Ihsan Fuad

4 Replies to “The Old Houses of Slemani”

  1. Thank you so much for your comment and I am really glad you enjoyed the article. Yes, indeed those two options are both quite adequate ways to solve the issue provided people dedicate their time for such endeavors. Unfortunately, there has not been many initiatives of this kind due to the reasons stated in the article but we hope that a solution might get under way so that not all of these houses get torn down.

  2. Thank you for this great article! As a person from Slemani, it hurts to see the Old Town demise/annihilation.

    I think there are two options going forward: (1) expropriate the Old Town area and rebuild accordingly (they did this in plenty of cities, but I suppose this is unrealistic). Or (2), create a new borough in the traditional architecture styles of Slemani and other Kurdish cities and name that borough “Shahre Sharan”, which would be fitting for how the people of Slemani like to style their city.

    I think (2) can be achieved given how many wealthy and smart people there are in Slemani. Would also be a great opportunity to experiment with building “old style” cities that fit modern needs.

  3. Congratulations Saman gian on this wonderful piece of research and writing. You are a credit to your family. Young people like you give me hope about the future of our people. Proud of you!

    1. Thank you so much Kak Rashid! It means a lot coming from you. Your kind words are definitely a huge encouragement for me and others like me who want to continue research on cultural matters of Kurds. Once again, I deeply appreciate your comment.

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