Damascus: Saddlers

Date: c. 1807

Spanish traveler Domingo Francisco Jorge Badía y Leblich (d. 1818), better known by his pseudonym Ali Bey al Abbasi, found that the saddlers shops were the second most numerous commercial building of the city, exceeded only by textile warehouses. Ali Bey notes that some of these saddles were of “superior workmanship”. Saddles were in high demand among the Arabs from as far afield as Baghdad and Medina, “who have no market at which they can buy in preference to Damascus”. See also: Tanner; Shoe Maker.

Citation: al-Abbasi, Ali Bey. Travels of Ali Bey in Morocco, Tripoli, Cyprus, Egypt, Arabia, Syria, and Turkey. Between the Year 1803 and 1807 (Philadelphia: Printed for John Conrad, at the Shakespeare building, by James Maxwell, 1816. After London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown, 1816), II, pp. 306, 315.

Date: 1892-93

During his visit to the sūq of the old town of Damascus Albert Terhune (d. 1942) mentions the street of the Saddlers. The saddlers and other artisans had workshops and storerooms located on Straight Street. See also: boot maker; shoe maker; cobbler.

Citation: Terhune, Albert Payson, Syria from the Saddle: A Description of the Holy Land today, as seen through a young man’s Eyes (New York: Silver, Burdett and Co., 1896), pp. 45, 49.


Date: 1899

The work of the saddlers of Damascus is highly praised in a report dating to 1899. See also: Tanner; Currier; Maker of Palanquins; Shoe Maker.

Citation: R. Oberhummer and H. Zimmerer quoted in Kalter, Johannes, “Urban Handicrafts”, in Kalter, Johannes, Margareta Pavaloi, and Maria Zerrnickel, eds. The Arts and Crafts of Syria: Collection Antoine Touma and Linden-Museum Stuttgart (London and New York: Thames and Hudson, 1992), p. 64.


Date: c. 1906

Henry Van Dyke (d. 1933) reports seeing the shops selling saddles. These could be plain or coloured, with additional decorative features, including beads, tinsel, velvet and morocco leather. See also: Tanner; Currier; Maker of Palanquins.

Citation: Van Dyke, Henry. Out of Doors in the Holy Land: Impressions of Travel in Body and Spirit, Outdoor Essays IV (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1908, reprinted 1920), p. 292.