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Saudi Artisan's Intricate Tributes of Wood Sculptures Celebrating Nature, Wildlife, and Ancient Inspirations

In his stand, the sculptor presents his collection of carved sculptures resembling an eagle, a snake crutch, carved canvases, and a variety of hand-made rosaries made of olive and date pits and coconut wood.(AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

Sultan Al-Mrshood, an acclaimed artist, currently graces the Saudi Feast Food Festival with his masterful wood sculptures inspired by his upbringing on a farm. His booth at the festival’s Olive Exhibition, focusing on the fruit's diverse applications, draws admirers who linger to appreciate his craftsmanship.

At the exhibition, Al-Mrshood showcases a diverse collection, featuring a hyper-realistic eagle, a wooden cane intricately entwined by a serpent, and handcrafted rosaries made from coconut wood, olive pits, and date seeds. Notably, his serpent canes, each taking approximately three months to craft, have become the focal point of attention. One of these, facilitated by the Ministry of Culture at the festival, recently sold for SR30,000 ($8,000). Another cane crafted seven years ago found its way to Prince Sultan bin Salman, who presented it to Bahrain’s then-foreign minister, Khalid bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa.

Sultan Al-Mrshood currently works at the Ministry of Culture as an instructor, passing on his knowledge to young Saudis through wood carving classes.(AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

Al-Mrshood infuses each piece with elements from Saudi civilization, linking them to events or ancient history. Representing the tale of Moses' staff, the serpent cane has become a hallmark of his fame. His art resonates with collectors, as evidenced by a sale to a well-known cane enthusiast in Al-Qassim province.

Saudi artist sultan Al-Mrshood carves rosaries from pits of olives and dates. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

Having previously secured the third place in a wood sculpture competition at Souq Okaz, a key component of Taif Season showcasing Arab culture, Al-Mrshood has earned recognition for his talents. Feedback from the community affirms the uniqueness of his work, particularly the serpent canes, classified as among the rarest in Saudi Arabia.

Seven years ago, Al-Mrshood sold a crutch to Prince Sultan who gifted it to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain.

Al-Mrshood's artistic journey traces back to his childhood on a farm in Buraidah, where he, unknowingly at the time, laid the foundation for his future as an artist. From playing with wooden sticks to creating masterpieces, his trajectory evolved from a painter to a sculptor. His creative process is intricate and multidimensional, involving geometry, creativity, expertise in sculpture, and the use of many techniques.

Sultan Al-Mrshood said ‘The snake crutch, which embodies the story of the staff of Moses, is the secret of my fame and was sold to Prince Sultan bin Salman.’ 

Al-Mrshood is currently engaged as a teacher at the Ministry of Culture, where he teaches wood carving to young Saudis. Despite facing challenges such as the lack of access to manual machines, he continues to find inspiration in moments of calm solitude, meditation, and walking.

Al-Mrshood has won third place in carving wood products at the Souq Okaz competition.(left) and Sultan Al-Mrshood said ‘The snake crutch, which embodies the story of the staff of Moses, is the secret of my fame and was sold to Prince Sultan bin Salman.’ (right)

Navigating the specialized market of wood carving, Al-Mrshood acknowledges the difficulties but also recognizes the allure of exclusivity. The scarcity of wood carvers in Saudi Arabia enhances the value of handcrafted products, making artists like him indispensable and highly esteemed.

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