"Qudad: Re-inventing a Tradition"

Qudad, a lime waterproofing material, can be found on religious and secular buildings and archaeological sites all over Yemen. Properly prepared and applied, it lasts a very long time. But because of its elaborate and labor-intensive application, this material had fallen out of common use and by twenty-five years ago very few, if any, masons knew how to make it and apply it.

The team that started to restore the early sixteenth-century Amiriya madrasa in Rada' in 1983, led by Dr. Selma al-Radi, chose to rely on traditional building techniques for the restoration work. Because qudad covers most of the surface of the building, this meant reviving the practice of mixing and applying qudad. The correct combinations and proportions of ingredients had to be established by trial and error, as did the order and length of the various application processes. But as a result of this work, a new generation of masons was trained in the correct application of this traditional technique, which is now applied in historical restoration work throughout Yemen. Moreover, it is now well-documented and will not again be lost.

This video documentary, "Qudad: Re-inventing a Tradition," was made as the restoration of the Amiriya neared completion. Through interviews with the master craftsmen and other workers in the building trades it illustrates the strategies chosen to implement the restoration using traditional building techniques, and demonstrates why the Amiriya restoration project sets a brilliant example of how to approach historical preservation in a sustainable way.

Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Project director: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it an independent filmmaker and senior producer at RAI-TV 1.

Project funding: A fellowship funded by AIYS' program grant from the Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Video distribution: The video documentary "Qudad: Re-inventing a Tradition" (© 2004, 58 minutes) is available in Arabic (PAL format) or English (either PAL or NTSC format) for purchase from DER Documentary Educational Resources or for rental from Anonymous Productions (917-743-5696, fax 212-226-3976).

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