Tamarind: Irony and Humor Resisting Dictatorship

11 March 2016

Simulating the Syrians status quo, and bearing witness to the divisions caused by the challenges of the revolution and the regime’s crimes, a team of of Syrian artists and intellectuals have put together a series called ‘Tamarind’. Using animation, they marry modern art techniques with Syrian history and originality.

Since the project launched 7 months ago in June 2015, the team has reached a widespread following, number over 150,000. The widespread following tunes in via YouTube and Facebook to watch the episodes. The tamarind seller is a recognizable figure in Syrian collective memory, known across class, religious, and cultural lines in Syria. Because of this, the figure was chosen by the team to be a symbol and hero. Delware Sulieman, one of the founders of the series, explained this in an interview with SyriaUntold.

Delware Suleiman/Source: Facebook
Delware Suleiman/Source: Facebook

Each episode of “Tamarind” deals with a current issue in Syria. The series reflects upon the Syrian identity by focusing on different Syrian dialects, using popular sayings and idioms, both old and new, and the names of the characters, like Haddou and Abu Jamal. This is all dedicated to the Syrian collective memory, fighting against 50 years of Ba’ath party slogans.


The makers of the series chose the art of satire to deliver their ideas to the public. Satire has been the most widespread art used during the Syrian revolution. It has also been the most sophisticated and effective, reflecting the bitter reality of Syrian love. Irony and humor are “the most appropriate means to communicate ideas easily and quickly, away from the daily complexities. It is through these forms that we can pass on ideas without imposing barriers on the Syrian community,” Suleiman said. He believes that there is no Syrian who does not like to smile; whatever the circumstances, every little smile adds up a little bit to ease the burden of sorrow and suffering.


The team putting in the work on the project is composed of Syrians living in and outside of Syria. According to them, they are united in faith in the spirit of the Syrian revolution and the identity of Syrian society. They believe in the national ethics of Syria. However, the Syrian regime has always sought to distort society. The arms in Syria currently, which were brought out due to the pressures in Syrian society, are not humane and act to weaken the authority of reason. The situation in Syria has led, naturally, to growing dangerous and negative feelings of revenge. The creators felt it was their duty to focus on the structure of the Syrian community, absent from the current public view, and paint them realistically albeit with a satirical lens.


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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad