Abu Farid’s library, a window into legacy of old times

Damascus, SANA – Unique legacy collectibles including rare records, antique musical instruments and more than half-a-million phonograph discs showcased at the Library of Mohammed al-Masri (nicknamed Abu Farid) provide a fascinating window to the creative works of leading artists and music pioneers who left their giant imprint on cultural heritage.

Starting at age 10, Abu Farid has spent about half of his lifetime collecting these treasures to be the Arab World’s first who possesses this huge archive of tapes, photos, films, movies, movie trailers, folders and brochures.

“All collectibles date back between 1920 through 1980,” said Abu Farid who considers that the era of great pioneers is over.

Abu Farid’s exhibition currently held at the al-Midan Cultural Center, seems like an invaluable art, music and cinema museum as it contains rare film brochures, dozens of magazines, photos and books on the history of music in Syria, antique recording machines dating back to 1965, video tapes, vintage movie projector from 1930 and the smallest transistor radio in the world, a radio cassette player and the oldest phonograph (also known as the music box)dating back to 1920.

Rare portraits of the late great musician Farid Al-Atrash,a ticket to attend his concert in Damascus dates back to 1972 and al-Atrash’s first phonograph disc from 1934 were also showcased.

Abu Farid noted that he owns the largest archive of al-Atrash’s works in the world including all his songs and 400 paintings of him, in addition to 100 folders containing the bios of 1000 Syrian, Lebanese and Egyptian singers as well as an alphabetical index of Umm Kulthoum’s songs and names of Oud players in her band.

He wished he could establish his own museum to showcase this outstanding ancient heritage, adding that such project requires an area of approximately 1000 m2.

For his part, Head of Culture Directorate in Damascus, Ayman Yasin expressed the Ministry of Culture’s support to such initiatives and experiences which aim at drawing attention of next generations to our rich heritage.

R. Raslan/ Ghossoun

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