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Author: Subject: SIMA'AN KAMEEL MOWAIS - Second Generation Oud Maker from Nazareth
Alfaraby
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[*] posted on 10-12-2014 at 02:46 PM
SIMA'AN KAMEEL MOWAIS - Second Generation Oud Maker from Nazareth




My 600th post is dedicated to:

Sima'an Kamil Mowais – Second Generation Luthier from Nazareth

A touching story of father and son:

Sim'an was born in 1970, the 4th child of five born to master Kamil Mowais's and his late spouse Badeea'a A'azar. He was literally born into his father's workshop, just underneath their house. As a child, he used to play around, while the master repaired old instruments and made new ones. He watched his father working, sometimes right under his nose and sometimes at a distance, as not to anger the master. He did not intend to learn how to build an oud, but he just saw it happening, on a daily basis, right in front of his open minded eyes. Recalling those days of his childhood makes him laugh. "I was very happy if my father would just let me sweep the floor of the carpentry shop ... but he seldom did". [Kamil's workshop is still called, in Kamil's surroundings, "manjarah" (carpentry-shop) from the carpentry era. (Remember the "carpentry shop" on Abdo Nahat's label ? )].

On the other hand, the young lad, being a quick-witted student at Don Bosco's neighboring vocational school in Nazareth, learned everything by watching his father working. "He was so fast I couldn't grasp what he was doing until I saw it being done again in the next ouds. Sometimes I would ask, but he'd tell me off , so I used to learn by my own skills, without asking the "teacher" ".

Kamil did not want him to be a luthier, so he encouraged him to join his uncle in metal works. "Luthiery is a profession of poverty" said the father. "You should have a real profession to make a living". This was very true, especially in the late 1980's, just before the worldwide "oud boom" has occurred.

Siman accepted his father's advice and made a successful career as a metalworker and a welder. After graduating, Siman did not put a hand to wood, not for the next 25 years or so. He was busy making a career, building his house, getting married, having children and so forth.

History was repeating itself ! His father quit carpentry for medical reasons in his early forties , and now the son, at about the same age, was injured in a work related accident, and had to quit "heavy weight lifting" at the factory he was employed at for the last decade or so. Tendon rupture in his shoulder interrupted his "metal" career.

While he was under rehabilitation after recovering from his injury, he started looking around for something to do. "Sitting there without doing anything just killed me, even more than my painful injury". This restlessness led him to the closed-down "manjarah", his dad's workshop downstairs, which had been shut since Nov. 2012 due to Kamil's severe health condition.

First, he just wanted "to sweep the floor", something he wanted to do some 25 years ago. Then he started organizing the chaos his father had left behind, then checking the wood inventory, molds, soundboards, and the already made parts and accessories stock like ribs, rosettes, strings, pegs, braces, bridges etc. He was shocked to discover that his father had left a stock for at least 50 ouds he did not get to make".

Sima'an started enjoying spending his daytime at the workshop after it was put in order and tidied with new stainless steel shelves, drawers, toolkits, closets, baskets, that he made. Everything was just in place, the way he was used to, in his former job.
He checked the old tools and put them on a board in front of him to see what he has there. Then he added some of his tools which he thought it might be suitable for wood working.
Here he thought to himself: everything is ready now, I'm ready, dad is ready, it's about time, so why not ! If not now, then when ? Go ahead man, do it ! Yes you can. You know you do .. you know how. Get started … goooooooooooooooooo !

It was autumn 2013. Some nice breezes blew outside, waving goodbye to summer. The open windows brought odors from the neighboring Don Bosco's Abbey. He inhaled the scents and flash-backs from the school came up. The main conceptual basis and vocational guidance, particularly in metal works, thinking and planning, Sima'an had at Don Bosco's school; so he soon started thinking and acting as a promising bright student of his school.

The first thing he made was a device he invented to help him with bending the ribs. He made a gas-heated metal mini mold with which he was able to bow 3 ribs at a time. He chose the smallest mold of his fathers' and started his first trial, assembling his very first rib on the mold.

This was an over-touching moment for the son. He remembered hearing his late mother once hoping her son would continue from where his father had reached. "I hope you're watching from up there what I'm doing"; Sima'an sadly murmured to himself.

Till that moment he didn't tell his (very ill) father what he was doing. He waited until the first bowl was initially completed and took it upstairs to the master, trembling with fear like he's about to pass an admission exam. The old man looked from his sickbed at the bowl in his son's hands and understood the whole story at once. Tears soon started wetting his pillow and they both cried.

From this point on, Kamil began instructing Sima'an how to finish what he had started: fingerboard, peg-box, bridge, nut, pick-guard, action, soundboard .. and the main secret of the oud making: BRACING.
As the old man was unable to take the stairs down to the workshop, Sima'an tirelessly kept going up and down the stairs hundreds of times to show the master every detail he'd made. Kamil slowly and patiently explained everything to his first and only apprentice he'd ever have, including the experiments he had conducted in the bracing job throughout the years and the bracing theory he had come up with. He revealed to his son what he would have not revealed to anyone else: the latest findings he had discovered in 50 years of bracing experiments. Sima'an was just lucky and very happy he started his new career while his -long live- father is still capable of instructing and guiding him to make the most successful oud possible, if not the best.

Eventually, the first oud was completed in two weeks time and immediately was followed by the second, the third and the fourth just before the end of 2013. Every new oud Sim'an made surpassed all expectations of his father and of the players who started coming over again. This was the real happy thing to happen in Mowais's family since the early loss of their mother in Nov. 2012. The workshop was busy again at daytime and the house was full again with visitors and friends who came by to visit uncle Kamil - who started getting better and better, back to almost normal life - and in order to play the new ouds made by Sima'an Kamil Mowais, a second generation of Luthiers , of right and not on sufferance.

Now it's Kamil Jr. who's watching his father while he's working on his new ouds. "I'll definitely let him sweep the floor if he likes" jokes the young father with a big smile. "Who knows ? He and/or his brother might be the third generation luthiers in the family".

... the beginning

p.s.
1. This is not any kind of an objective reportage, though every single fact stated here is the truth and nothing but the truth. It's more about my personal experience with the Mowais's, whom I admit I cherish. I had the privilege of literally living those moments with the father and his son during this passing year, and watched the young man getting better and better in every other oud he finished, and eventually kept one of his first ouds to myself. I just won't have enough ouds if I won't have one (at least) made by Mowais Jr.

2. So far, 7 of our accomplished oud players have tried Simaan's ouds : Taiseer Elias, Kameel Shajrawi, Nizar Rohana, Adel Salameh, Emil Bishara, Emad Dalal, Eyad Assadi. They all indicated the resemblance between the father's and the son's ouds, both in playability and sound quality and many of them and of their students have already acquired Sima'an's ouds.

3. Young Emil Bishara (23) volunteered to try these ouds and was filmed by a mobile device, which managed to take a fair movie, but failed to record the real sound of the ouds. The "under water" effect of the sound, the acoustics of the room, the new strings & the unplayed instruments did not contribute to the sound quality.. either. However, it's only the beginning, so more to be recorded with a much reasonable camera.

The sound samples of Emil playing the ouds are being uploaded to my channel at youtube, but they'd take some time to be uploaded for temporary slow connection, so please stay tuned and patient.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6uhnkBkUWMNwSWN4-WkB9w

Yours indeed
Alfaraby

... more photos to come ..

The very first oud [file]32792[/file] [file]32794[/file] [file]32796[/file] [file]32798[/file] [file]32800[/file] [file]32802[/file] [file]32804[/file] [file]32806[/file] [file]32808[/file] [file]32810[/file]




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Alfaraby
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[*] posted on 10-12-2014 at 02:51 PM


More photos ...

[file]32812[/file] [file]32814[/file] [file]32816[/file] [file]32818[/file] [file]32820[/file] [file]32822[/file]
[file]32824[/file] [file]32826[/file] [file]32828[/file]




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MatthewW
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[*] posted on 10-13-2014 at 01:30 AM


Dear Alfaraby- A truly wonderful and heart warming story of father and son. Lol, I can imagine Sim'ans great surprise upon discovering his father's stock of 50 unfinsihed ouds! Thanks for this article and past articles on The Mowais family, if it was not for your input into this forum I would not have been aware of such a talented oud making family in Nazareth. best wishes, MW
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[*] posted on 10-13-2014 at 02:57 AM


excellent thread, and beautiful playing by Emil...he is very talented.
This summer I had an opportunity to play on an oud that Sima'an repaired, the sound was fantastic.
Thanks for sharing
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[*] posted on 10-13-2014 at 05:34 AM


Alfaraby,

Great story, thanks for sharing... These posts of yours keep the forum alive!
I wish Sim'an a long career in luthiery and hope to try one of his instruments.
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[*] posted on 10-13-2014 at 12:02 PM


Very nice Alfaraby; thanks for posting. Can't wait for the higher quality sound clips, but even with these we can hear the distinctive character of the ouds. -Roy



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[*] posted on 10-13-2014 at 03:19 PM


Bravo! :applause:

I wish my dad was a oud maker. Hopefully Kamil sr. Is getting better.
God bless this family.

The ouds sound phenomenal




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[*] posted on 10-14-2014 at 12:24 AM


nice story ..
thanks
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[*] posted on 10-14-2014 at 03:23 AM


best wishes of success for their house
Those ouds seems wonderful
thank you for sharing this story




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[*] posted on 10-14-2014 at 04:12 AM


Its inspiring to read a story where success and happiness come from a family sharing goals.

Thanks too, well written and congrats on your 600th post!

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[*] posted on 10-14-2014 at 11:40 AM


These are really beautiful ouds. Does he plan to sell them ? I hope so.
Nice story Alfaraby, thank you.
Robert
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[*] posted on 10-14-2014 at 11:47 AM


Thank you dear Alfaraby for this lovely story....you know that I love Kamil Mowais Ouds...very deep Arab warm sound..
Sam'aan has surprised me with the 2 ouds which I have played when we met up in Palestine early this year....
yes he did take indeed the sound of his father , very beautiful sound...I am sure he will produce more beautiful Oud...
I wish him all the best and wish the great master a quick recovery ....
thanks for sharing these photos with us,
Salamaty,
Adel
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[*] posted on 10-14-2014 at 12:57 PM


Thanks friends. I'm deeply moved !

Mathew: Sorry I misled you a little bit. There were no "unfinished ouds", but rather the materials needed for 50 ouds: pegs, rosettes and strings are ready anyway, while the ribs, the braces and the bridges were made as blanks, ready to be cut and shaped by the maker.

Robert: Except for the first, all ouds are for sale. Please write directly to the maker at:
kameelmowaisoud@gmail.com

Specifications: bowls made of walnut (African & American), wenge, pear, oak, paddock, maple, 520/350/180 mm (20/14/7") +/- ; mostly western red cedar soundboards AA, AAA; 600 & 615 mm scale, Indian rosewood fingerboards, rosewood & titul pegs, Australian best white and green abalone MOP, Pyramid 650 strings sets.

I believe he deserves encouragement, doesn't he ?

Thank you all :bowdown:

Yours indeed
Alfaraby




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[*] posted on 10-14-2014 at 03:56 PM


It's always great when a craft is passed from father to son. They do great work in that country, and for that I am glad. Like Samir, I wish my dad was a luthier as well! :)



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Alfaraby
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[*] posted on 10-16-2014 at 12:11 PM


Thanks friends: 600 readings already.
Thanks also to the friends who wrote to me in person: 24 so far.

Here's a genuine oud bowl Sima'an made from one piece of wenge. It came in two colors dark and light by nature, so the maker decided to make such a beautiful piece of art. The soundboard in this case was chosen of AAAA red cedar to ensure the best results. Have a look !

Here's also a photo of the father & son in a very rare moment when Kamil took the courage and stepped down the stairs to the manjarah to see what and how Sima'an was actually doing.

Yours indeed
Alfaraby

[file]32924[/file] [file]32926[/file] [file]32928[/file] [file]32930[/file] [file]32934[/file]




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[*] posted on 10-24-2014 at 01:34 AM


Can I have an idea about Mowais's ouds prices please?
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[*] posted on 10-24-2014 at 03:21 AM


That picture of father and son is truly moving....
Thanks for sharing this beautiful story.
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Alfaraby
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[*] posted on 10-26-2014 at 12:34 AM


Thanks Franck.

Omar dear:
You're invited, as said, to contact the maker through his e-mail above.
The prices at the makers' workshop range from 1500-2500 $ + P&P.
Standard models are the cheapest, while MOP ouds are the most expensive.
As much as I know, the workshop is capable of making 20 pieces a year, so book your next oud now :)

Yours indeed
Alfaraby




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[*] posted on 11-6-2014 at 10:05 AM


Here's the latest oud by Mowais Jr. finished this afternoon !
The special thing about this masterpiece is not only the craftsmanship, but the fact that Mr Mwais Sr. took part in designing and building the bowl, for the first time in two years. Hurray !

Have a look
Enjoy

Yours indeed
Alfaraby

[file]33146[/file][file]33148[/file] [file]33150[/file][file]33152[/file][file]33144[/file]




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[*] posted on 11-6-2014 at 11:02 AM


Wow. nice oud and very touching to see the master back at the craft!






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Alfaraby
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[*] posted on 8-3-2015 at 09:46 AM


The youngman is doing fine :)
Enjoy

Yours indeed
Alfaraby

[file]36162[/file] [file]36160[/file] [file]36158[/file] [file]36164[/file] [file]36166[/file] [file]36168[/file] [file]36170[/file] [file]36172[/file]




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Alfaraby
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[*] posted on 12-16-2015 at 09:37 AM


End of the year closeout

Mowais now offers a real discount on his ouds:
basic now 1250 $, MOP now 2000 $,
shipping worldwide in a super safe hardcase is ensured.
Two weeks sale.

So if you are fond of deep bass Arabic sound, don't miss.
Few ouds are left.
Highly recommended !

Yours indeed
Alfaraby




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[*] posted on 12-16-2015 at 10:43 AM


Quote: Originally posted by Alfaraby  
End of the year closeout

Mowais now offers a real discount on his ouds:
basic now 1250 $, MOP now 2000 $,
shipping worldwide in a super safe hardcase is ensured.
Two weeks sale.

So if you are fond of deep bass Arabic sound, don't miss.
Few ouds are left.
Highly recommended !

Yours indeed
Alfaraby



I wish! Those look fantastic!
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Alfaraby
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[*] posted on 12-21-2015 at 04:03 PM


Here you may find sound samples of the ouds available:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6uhnkBkUWMNwSWN4-WkB9w
No. 8-13

Enjoy

Yours indeed
Alfaraby




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