Writing is the mother of eloquence and the father of artists,” according to a Syrian saying. Syria has a rich literary tradition. Poetry is highly regarded. The public recital of odes was a common feature of Bedouin life. The public reading of poetry is still part of Arab culture. 

Many contemporary Syrian writers have moved to Lebanon, the publishing centre of the Arab world, where they have greater freedom of speech. Syrian writers often see themselves as representing all of Arab culture, not just Syrian culture. Two of the best-known Syrian writers in Beirut are Adunis, a poet who criticizes social and political structures, and Ghada al-Samman, a poet and novelist who focuses on feminist issues.

Syria’s museums display sculptures and ceramic art from thousands of years ago. Most of this art dates from the Byzantine period. Islamic art can be seen in mosques in the form of calligraphy and intricately patterned mosaics. 

There are two types of music in Syria: classical music, which uses Arabic instruments, and modern music, played by a European-style orchestra with a lead vocalist and a chorus. There are many similarities between Arabic music and Arabic literature. Both use repetition and exaggeration to tell stories about love, honour and family. A traditional instrument is the oud, a stringed instrument that is the ancestor of the European lute.

  Did you know?
An international film festival is held in Damascus every two years, in autumn. Damascus also hosts a theatre arts festival in the fall.
Since the Middle Ages, Damascus has been famous for the quality of its woven textiles, which are known as damask. Damask weaving produces a pattern on both sides of the fabric. Today, weavers still create beautiful textiles from silk, cotton, linen and other fibres. Other Syrian handicrafts include elaborate filigree jewellery of gold and silver. Using small pieces of wood in different colours, woodworkers create complicated patterns on boxes, trays and furniture, a technique known as marquetry. Damascus is also known for beautiful blown glass.
  Did you know?
Damascene steel is a special alloy of different metals that was used to make beautiful 
and flexible swords and knives many centuries ago. This difficult and demanding art form died out in Syria in the 14th century, but modern craftspeople throughout the world still try to replicate the original process.