The mud and sandstone walls hid the multistory palace of Imam Yahya, built in the 1930s. From one of the terraces where we were invited to dine in the evening we could look down some 1000 feet into the valley and the lights of the village. The floor was covered with bright carpets, pots with plants were everywhere, and the light came from candles set on tripods. Over chicken and lamb with lentils, followed by cake and cardamom tea, the Imam explained that the tripods were left by a British surveying expedition in the twenties, mapping the deserts and hills of Yemen. We were impressed by the fact that the metal and wood, combined with saddler's leather straps, still looked fresh and new, obviously a combination of quality and form follows function.