While other countries as Morocco, Tunisia or Egypt probably have way more to offer in terms of Oriental furniture, carpets, ceramics, pottery, etc. in Jordan you can also find a few things, such as carpets, jewelry or other souvenir items. Also, you may find work from other Arabic countries such as Syria and Iraq, which currently are difficult to visit, hence souvenirs and other items are hard to get. Here is a list of some nice stores that I have discovered.
Al Afghani – Souvenir Stores
At Al-Afghani you find everything from carpets over mosaic boxes to lanterns, tables, jewelry and so on. It is one of the few places where you actually find some traditional/oriental staff. There are several Al-Afghani stores. Not all of them seem to be related. The one downtown is very small, therefore does not have so much to offer and is easy to be overlooked but is the first one of its kind. The one near Wadi Saqra, Gardens and in Swefiah near Bun Al Ameed/Wakalat street are very nice.
Syrian Mosaic Art – Coffee Table Set
In the Arabic culture drinking tea or coffee is an old tradition that you probably will encounter everywhere, all the day, no matter if you are at work, visiting a friend, staying over at a Bedouin camp or whilst you are shopping at the Souq. Jordanian/Arabic hospitality will ensure that you are being offered tea or coffee at some point.
While you are at home, visiting friends, it is most likely to find a set of three or four small side tables, on which glasses, mugs or plates with sweets are placed. This way your tea or coffee is never far away.
The pictures below feature a set of three tables in Mosaic style. This is typical Syrian work, originally from Damascus. Using many different types of wood such as rose, almond, walnut, lemon and others, the typical Islamic pattern is put together to form the top and side of the tables. There are plenty of variations in patterns seen also in chess, backgammon board or whole gaming tables, sometimes combined with other work techniques. Next, to the “Mother of Pearl” art, this is one of the nicest traditional art from Syria.
The set is bought at a small shop owned by a Syrian in Khalda, Amman. It is not solid wood but still very nice. This set is not old but newly made, which makes it less special but also more affordable since real old work is hard to find nowadays and therefore has its price.
You will find the store in Khalda on Thabet Ben Dinar Street. It is a one way street from East to West. The store will be on your left side around 50 m after the circle. They make very nice doors and also other sets of tables & entrees.
Syrian Wood Art
There are plenty of nice Syrian wood artworks such as the Mosaic works, bevel art or Mother of Pearl works. All kinds of furniture such as round and octagon tables, doors, chairs, boxes, chest drawers, chess, and backgammon games etc. In Fuhais, about 10 – 15 minutes West of Amman you will find a store called Mosaic that sells very nice items. They restaurateur original, old furniture and also create and import new items. If you are on Al-Hijaz Street towards the main circle in Fuhais, you will find it on the left, before the street goes downhill. Prices will be way lower than in Amman. Below is a set of two chairs and an octagon table made of walnut wood with engraving and mother of pearl.
The carpet below is typical Jordanian work from Madaba. It is a runner about 3 meters long and has a typical Kelim pattern also seen in many Turkish or Persian Kelims. This piece was bought from a shop called carpet city in Madaba. Also in many souvenir shops, you will find similar carpets or silk carpets or camel bags and other interesting items.
The store is on a side street next to the Madaba Hotel. They have a lot of different rugs, camel bags, and other nice items. The owner is very hospitable and will offer you tea or coffee for sure. If he is not in his shop, he probably will be close by in his house.