The exquisite beauty of Rawashen Al-Hijaz
الرواشين: فن معماري يزين واجهات المباني الحجازية
20 JUN 2020
Source: Abeer Al-Amoudi
Jeddah’s timber Rawashen windows often emit distinctive incense smells and the hearty laughter of family gatherings. The city’s old buildings continue to preserve the beauty and perfection of that era’s architectural style, of which Rawashen were an integral component. Click here to know more about Jeddah downtown.
Rawashen is the plural of “Roshan”, which comes from the Persian word “Rozona”, meaning the opening in a room from which light enters. Over time the term Roshan was used by local people when referring to the distinctive designs on the wooden panels used to cover the windows.
The Rawashen industry is a traditional inherited craft practiced by Hijazi people since the Abbasid period and which flourished during the Ottoman era. Old buildings of the Hijaz cities in general and the historic downtown Jeddah area in particular feature many beautifully designed Rawashen. They were not only manufactured as a mere decoration for homes, but also to help cool pottery drinking vessels. They were built in a way that protected houses from dust, rain, flies and insects while allowing sunlight to enter during the day in a picturesque way.
The Rawashen houses of Jeddah, Madinah and Makkah are distinguished by being more compact yet typically higher than other homes, comfortably overlooking the streets. The wooden pieces of Rawashen were creatively carved with interlocking pieces. Window shutters were beautifully built with a sheet of small mesh curtains. Most designs in Jeddah hang off the house walls from the upper to the ground floors and typically feature rectangular or arched openings with decorative iron grilles.
Homes, palaces and government buildings were designed with Rawashen for their remarkable effectiveness in creating a comfortable indoor environment despite the hot temperatures.
In the past, they were carved from India, the eastern coast of Africa and Malaysia. However, local carpenters of Hijaz later became skilled in their own right in creating beautiful designs that allowed residents to enjoy the outside views while protecting their privacy thanks to their distinctive small openings. other cities with remarkable Rawashen windows is Al-Wajh particularly its old town.