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Moonglow from Underground

Alabaster, one of the rarest and most ancient of lighting materials, has now been reinterpreted in a contemporary idiom.

Used to illuminate Arabian palaces and tower-houses since 2,000 years ago, the subtle glow of alabaster – 'moonlight stone' – has been brought to light again by Abdulwahhab al-Sayrafi, master alabaster craftsman. His unique, hand-made range of alabaster windows, lamps and candleholders are perfect for today's architecture and today's interiors.

Arabian poets praised the palace of the kings of Sheba in Sana'a, Yemen, and its translucent alabaster ceiling. The palace-builders began a 2,000-year tradition: within living memory the tower-houses of Yemen were lit by window panes of alabaster - in Arabic qamari, 'moonlight stone'. More recently, however, most of the old alabaster windows were replaced with imported glass. It seemed to be the final eclipse of that subtle and mysterious light – moonglow from beneath the ground.

Now those unique windows have come to light again – not only in the timeless glow of alabaster alone, but also in new and striking combinations of alabaster and stained glass, plus an exclusive range of lamps and candleholders. All are designed and made by Abdulwahhab al-Sayrafi, master alabaster craftsman. His family were the most celebrated alabaster cutters in Yemen. Single-handed, Abdulwahhab has revived the alabaster heritage of Sheba.

Inspired by this ancient tradition, his works are also perfect for today's architecture and today's interiors. Simple forms allow the beauty of the crystalline stone to shine in any contemporary setting, from cosy to minimalist. Out of respect to a demanding material, the alabaster is still mined, sawn and crafted by hand. This means that every piece is unique.

see also

Saudi Aramco World article

Amiriyyah Mosque restoration


XVA Gallery, Dubai

The National Magazine, Abu Dhabi

copyright © Abdulwahhab al-Sayrafi 2009