SAMAWAH, Iraq: An imposing house stands out among other buildings in Iraq’s Samawah city — once a multi-generational family home, it’s now a museum of a bygone age in the country’s tribal south.
Abdellatif Al-Jablawi, the property’s owner and family patriarch, led a tour of the traditional house where he was born 80 years ago.
At the time, three generations, from grandparents to grandchildren, lived in the house, with its intricate “shanasheel” bay windows, wooden balconies and tall doors topped by elaborate lintels.
“Over the generations, everyone preferred to rent elsewhere and the house emptied out,” said Al-Jablawi, now the oldest member of his family.
The house comprises 13 rooms splashed with sunlight colored by stained glass windows, including a grand ceremonial salon and kitchen, which Al-Jablawi still calls “the fireplace,” as it was known when he was young.
The rooms are connected by steep, narrow stairs and walls of yellow brick, a historic building material still produced in southern Iraq.
Al-Jablawi said the structure had been at risk of “falling into ruin” when he decided to act.
“I decided to buy back all the shares of the house ... and, in 2015, I found an architect specialized in renovating heritage buildings,” he said.