An Artist From Mosul Is Attempting To Revive Nineveh's Traditional Music


Anwar is a musician from the city of Mosul who is reviving the music that he used to play before ISIS’ invasion of the Nineveh Province in 2014. Anwar plays two instruments, the flute and the drums, which he says he learned how to play when he was 18.

Anwar, a Moslawi musician from the district of Hamdaniya, is trying to revive his city’s musical heritage after ISIS banned musical instruments. Since the liberation of Mosul, the artist has been playing his music at parties, events, and weddings throughout the city.

“I participated in many festivals such as the Spring Festival and Babylon Festival,” said Anwar. “I am always asked to participate in all the festivals because I have a folk band.” The musician who plays the drums and the flute says that he learned how to play these instruments at the age of 18. “I used to sit next to the flute player because I love this profession. My military service was based in Basra, and there are a lot of reeds there, so I learned to play some melodies using the reeds and step by step I started playing at parties in Qaraqosh,” he said.

Anwar did not limit his creativity to playing music; he began manufacturing the instruments and selling them throughout Iraqi Provinces and abroad. However, due to the absence of materials under ISIS’ rule, Anwar used the limited materials at his disposal to create the instruments. “I have bought a special insulator used for car engines and I use it for the drum…As for the flutes, I buy and sell them because I do not have the [needed] equipment,” said Anwar.

Another artist, Karim Kanaan Wasfi, like Anwar, is attempting to revive the city’s heritage that was lost or destroyed during ISIS’ rule. The Moslawi musician is known to many Iraqis, as many videos and pictures were shared on social media of him playing his music on the rubble of areas targeted by ISIS. Since Mosul’s liberation, the musician returned to his city to revive its musical heritage. “There is respect for the uniqueness of Nineveh and the city of Mosul in particular, and the uniqueness of its community,” said Karim Kanaan Wasfi.

Last month, Karim Wasfi attracted many residents of the Old City of Mosul to his solo performance, which he performed atop the rubble of the Great Mosque of al-Nouri and Our Lady of the Hour Church in Mosul.

The liberation and reconstruction of Mosul alone are not enough to bring the people back to their homes. The revival of the city’s heritage and culture dramatically contributes to helping people heal the psychological scars that were left behind by ISIS.