Making the Beautiful Inlaid Pearlwork of the Orient, Damascus, Syria


This early-20th century photograph, taken in Damascus by William H. Rau, depicts men, women, and children in a crowded workshop making what Rau described as “inlaid pearlwork” furniture. The workshops of Damascus were famed for this intricate craft, which features geometrical designs of alternating pieces of mother of pearl and polished wood. Rau was an American photographer best known for his images of railroads and American landscapes. He first traveled to the Near East in 1882 for a six-month journey with publisher Edward L. Wilson.

Last updated: September 18, 2015