Al-Qatt Al-Asiri

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Al-Qatt Al-Asiri (also called nagash painting or majlis painting), is an art style originating in the decoration of the majlis (front parlor of traditional Arab homes) in the Asir province of Saudi Arabia and adjoining parts of Yemen. These wall paintings, an arabesque form of mural or fresco, show various geometric designs in bright colors: “Called nagash in Arabic, the wall paintings were a mark of pride for a woman in her house".[1]

It was inscribed on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2017 as Al-Qatt Al-Asiri.[2]

The geometric designs and heavy lines seem to be adapted from the area’s textile and weaving patterns.[3]

Women’s artwork[edit]

Women in the Asir region are traditionally responsible for plastering and painting the walls, corridors, and ceilings of their homes. A family’s wealth can often be determined by the skill, color, and complexity of the paintings, with poorer homes decorated in basic straight, simple lines in red, green, yellow, and brown. When women did not want to paint the walls themselves, they could barter with other women who would do the work. Women within the same neighborhood sometimes compete with one another to make the most vivid and extravagant designs. Several Saudi women have become famous as majlis painters, such as Fatima Abou Gahas.[1]

The interior walls of the home are brightly painted by the women, who work in defined patterns with lines, triangles, squares, diagonals and tree-like patterns. [1]

Women from the region sometimes sell miniature 'Asiri houses as souvenirs and knickknacks, which are popular among Saudi city-dwellers, who find these colorful houses a source of wonder.[4]

Airport art[edit]

The Saudi provincial airport in Abha has been designed to reflect the cultural heritage of the region. The Airport Director Abdul Aziz Abu Harba said that "The seating arrangement at the airport lounge has been in the form of a traditional majlis and the walls are painted in various colors reflecting the natural beauty of Asir".[5]


  1. ^ a b c Yunis, Alia, "The Majlis Painters," Saudi Aramco World Magazine, July/August 2013, pages 24-31.
  2. ^ "Al-Qatt Al-Asiri". UNESCO. Retrieved 19 September 2018. 
  3. ^ Maha Al Faisal and Khalid Azzam. 1999. "Doors of the Kingdom" Saudi Aaramco World. This article appeared on pages 68-77 of the January/February 1999 print edition of Saudi Aramco World]
  4. ^ Ni'Mah Isma'il Nawwab (1998). "The Suqs of 'Asir".  This article appeared on pages 2-9 of the July/August 1998 print edition of Saudi Aramco World.
  5. ^ Mishaal Al-Tamimi (19 May 2011). "2011 "Abha airport reflects heritage". Arab News. Retrieved 19 September 2018.