- Hardcover: 168 pages
- Publisher: Flammarion; First Edition edition (October 27, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9782080136473
- ISBN-13: 978-2080136473
- ASIN: 208013647X
- Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 1 x 11.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,818,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Impressions of Yemen Hardcover – October 27, 1997
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Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French
From the Back Cover
A country surrounded by mountains, Yemen has for many centuries remained untouched by and resistant to foreign influences. Turned in upon itself Yemen is a world whose arts and architecture preserve many links with the past, while integrating the modern world to an often startling degree. From the coastal plains of the Tihama in the west inland to the cities of Wadi Hadramawt in the east, Pascal and Maria Marechaux's photographs reveal the origins and meanings of the extraordinary indigenous painted houses. Yemeni architecture uses only local resources, inscribing its forms directly into the landscape, to produce a highly mimetic effect: the forms and decoration evoke the qualities of the mountains and earth, the natural light, and the vegetation of the environment. Architecture is also an important bearer of social symbolism: brilliant colors are used both to protect and to seduce, to vaunt the wealth and status of the owner; and the organization of interior space defines the central role of hospitality in Yemeni life. In a fascinating text, the authors describe how, through a limited decorative repertoire and the same materials, houses of similar form yet infinite variety are constructed.
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The subject matter in this book is an exquisite balance of buildings and people. The landscapes of previous books are largely absent. They ranged over almost all the now-unified Yemen, including the Tihama lowlands and Wadi Hadramaut. The photographs of the city of Shibam remain a classic, the city of the ancient world with "skyscrapers" tucked into the heart of the Hadramawt. I particularly liked the tomb of Ahmad ibn Isa al-Muhajir, in this same wadi, taken at an angle to accentuate its form, and its stark white against the dark hills (p38). In terms of people, they score again and again with arresting faces of these unique people. The men of the Munabbi tribe, in festive gear, on page 100, are a study all to itself. Likewise, form and figure are stunning with a woman in the doorway on page 103. The last chapter focuses on the vision of a futuristic world, and captures images on trucks and buildings that reflect the modern era of planes and satellite dishes.
The focus of the book is on the architectural design and details of houses, and the makeup and decorations worn by men and women during festive periods. Yemen, perhaps more than other countries of the Arab world, uses color in often gaudy and splashy displays, which is the subject of the chapters entitled "The Rainbow House," and "Painting Happiness."
The works of the Marechaux's are essential for anyone planning to visit the Yemen, and even for the more numerous "armchair travelers" who want a deeper understanding of this land that has long been isolated, which has determined a more unique path of development.