Kuwait artifacts and architecture reflect cultural identity

By Maleeha Suhail

KUWAIT: The evolution of cultural memory and identity in Kuwaiti architecture and artifacts in Kuwaiti museums is exceptionally significant, especially in Kuwait’s rich maritime history, the Iraq invasion in 1990 and other cultural aspects. Kuwait’s memory and identity are thoroughly established and embedded into the minds of Kuwaiti communities through its significant architecture and artifacts with an exceptionally unique look attributed only to Kuwait. So, what is cultural memory? It is a term used for groups of people who share a certain memory when they look at the public displays of objects and architecture.

These cultural memories are often shown in different historical objects and museums. These often impose a certain meaning that depicts where people come from and how they remember themselves. The Kuwait Liberation Tower, which associates its cultural memory and national identity with its freedom from the Iraqi war is the reason why this landmark bestows great importance on Kuwaiti identity. Acts of bravery and sacrifice are acknowledged through proper memorials, displayed walls of martyrs in different public places such as Kuwait International Airport, as well as shared on social media platforms to mark its annual anniversaries.

Construction of the Liberation Tower was halted during the invasion, and it was completed after the war and was given the name of Liberation Tower due to its freedom from Iraq. This only signifies how much cultural meaning the Liberation Tower carries through the memories of the Iraq invasion. Other than that, Kuwaiti communities from all different paths of life reflect on the deep meanings of Kuwaiti architecture and what really makes them who they are. A battle-like memory sheds its light in a profound way. The cultural memory didn’t affect a single individual but the entire new-generation Kuwaiti community despite not being born during times of the Iraq war.



These are the impacts of cultural memory where events like these occurred and how much impact architecture and objects carry emotionally in Kuwaiti communities. Moreover, jewelry is an essential part of Kuwait’s cultural identity. The historical tradition of Kuwaiti women wearing ‘Al Baghma’, ‘Hejel’, ‘Terchiya’ and ‘Al Khazzama’ were very popular in the past. Stone and beaded necklaces were worn before, and these objects still hold value in Kuwaiti women’s hearts today. These pieces of jewelry are displayed in museums where Kuwaiti visitors can look and reflect on this cultural memory and reflect on their artistic Kuwaiti identity.

These objects can depict how much value a single piece of jewelry can carry through its historical background and encourage Kuwaiti women to preserve their culture. Going back to history, Kuwait has been a significant maritime port for a long time. It carries generations of skilled pearl divers and has been a huge part of local trading with other Gulf countries. The Kuwait Maritime Museum, where the maritime dhow is displayed outside the museum, called Boom Al-Muhallab, was used for pearl diving.

This ship being publicly displayed only depicts the diverse maritime history Kuwait has, where civilians who pass by roads look at it and think of Kuwaiti pearl diving trends that cannot be compared to other regions. Kuwaitis can look back and be proud of their national identity and cultural memory. One can imagine their ancestors being a part of such rich history and feel at one with other local Kuwaiti communities. What makes up the Kuwaiti heritage? How do Kuwaitis really think about their ancestral culture that is deeply rooted in ancient historical objects and architecture?

One of the historical places that comes to mind is Souk Al-Mubarakiya, where streets are filled with local markets, a popular grand bazaar for people to enjoy shopping in traditional Kuwaiti style. Souk Al-Mubarakiya is seen as a prominent symbol of Kuwaiti cultural memory, where Kuwaiti communities can think about their traditional roots as they go through the tasks of everyday life. Historical objects around this area include wooden double doors that are present in each market. Varieties of spices, meat, fish, gold jewelry and perfume are sold that remind Kuwaiti visitors of their ancestral culture as they walk around Souk Al-Mubarakiya.

This area was the main hub for Kuwaiti shopping before the discovery of oil. In this modern era, when Kuwaitis think about their culture, Kuwait’s cultural memory is crucially associated with the local and beautifully designed malls. The Avenues consists of different sections inside the mall. One significant section, called The Souk, is inspired by the Souk Al-Mubarakiya.

Due to Kuwait’s hot climate, Kuwaiti communities can enjoy and experience the desert feel in the mall as they tap into their Kuwaiti cultural memory by walking in this area. The architecture is a striking fusion of the old Kuwait and a modern one that resonates with Kuwait’s culture, where local people from old and new generations can enjoy the Arabian ambiance and contemplate their Kuwaiti identity.

The post Kuwait artifacts and architecture reflect cultural identity appeared first on Kuwait Times.

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