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Traditional weaving practices enliven Ramadan atmosphere in UAE

Traditional weaving practices enliven Ramadan atmosphere in UAE
3 Apr 2024 08:49

AMEINAH ALZEYOUDI (ABU DHABI)

Ramadan in the UAE offers Emiratis an opportunity to breathe new life into traditional customs and practices, thus preserving their heritage and national identity.

As the holy month approaches its end, textile and tailoring shops see an uptick in demand for traditional clothing.
Among the traditions that come to the fore is the textile handicraft of Talli, which is known for its intricate patterns for women’s clothing.

Passed down through generations, from mother to daughter, the traditional textile craft involves twisting and braiding different strands of thread together to create elaborate patterns for women’s clothing, from wedding dresses to everyday wear.

Due to its cultural and historical value Talli was listed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2022.

The designs and patterns of Talli mimic the natural environment, such as plants, animals, or even household utensils.
In the past, Talli braids and embroidery were woven with real threads of silver or gold with cotton threads of different colours. Then with industrial development, silver and gold threads were replaced with synthetic ones.

The process demands patience and skills with the aid of a number of traditional tools.

As for arranging the threads, women use pins on a cylindrical pillow placed on a metal base called “kajooja.” Depending on the shape of the design and the extent of its interlacing, weaving the Talli may require from eight to 50 “dahari” or bobbins

Also, depending on the shape of the design and its complexity, the weaving of a single “talli” varies from hours to months.

Considering Talli as a craft and creativity, each piece is characterised by a personal touch, as its patterns and composition bore differences in final form, size and width, in line with the style of Emirati women.

Among the popular designs include “Fankh Al Bateekh”, (slices of watermelon), which features parallel shapes resembling watermelon seeds, which are repeated on the fabric’s centre.

The “Sayer yaay” (coming and going) style follows the method used to create a hatch pattern, and involves weaving a single silver thread back and forth.

As for the “Bukhoustin” (double strand) technique, it involves a wide silver band running down the centre of the textile. Only two bobbins of synthetic silver thread are used to make the pattern.

The “Bu Khosa” (single strand) pattern uses only a single dahary to create a silver band, half the width of “Bu Khostain” down the centre of the textile.

Al SaduAnother traditional weaving technique that is a UAE heritage symbol and central to the Bedouin way of life is Al Sadu.

This traditional handicraft involves weaving camel fur, goat hair or sheep wool into material for blankets, carpets, pillows, tents and the decoration fabrics for camels.

Al Sadu products are distinguished by a variety of colours ranging from black, white, brown, beige and red. The loom used in Al Sadu is built from palm or jujube wood.

Practised by Emirati women since ancient times, this traditional activity, where weavers gather in small groups, also serves as an occasion to bring together neighbours and friends.

Due to its cultural significance, in 2011, Al Sadu was inscribed on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

Aisha Mohammed, a UAE senior citizen,  considers Sadu as an integral part of the Emirati heritage.

“This traditional craft carries deep meaning and teaches the young generation the value of communication and social bonding among community members,” she said.

These gatherings reflect not only the traditional and craftsmanship aspect but also the spirit dedication to preserving the cultural heritage of the Emirates. The continuity of this practice during Ramadan contributes greatly to the transfer of knowledge and skills to future generations, she added.

“It is a unique experience that combines learning, entertainment, and heritage, highlighting the vibrant spirit and rich culture of the UAE.

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