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Kuwaiti Craft Al-Sadu Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO


Traditional weaving of Al Sadu was inscribed in 2020 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Traditional weaving of Al Sadu refers to the traditional woven textile made by Bedouin women: in Arabic, ‘Al Sadu’ means weaving done in a horizontal style. The weaving is a form of warp-faced plain weave made on a ground loom. The cloth forms a tightly woven, durable textile and the weavers make use of natural fibres found in their natural environment. The patterns found in Bedouin weaving reflect the desert environment in its simple, pure form, featuring geometric designs combined to flow in rhythmic repetition and symmetry. Weavers also use bright colours such as reds and oranges to liven up the surroundings. The beauty of each woven item depends on the quality of the spinning and weaving and the expertise of the weaver – the finer the yarn, the more pronounced and delicate the structure and design pattern. The primary bearers of Al Sadu are older Bedouin women who are master weavers. Master weavers play a key role in transmitting the related skills to others, most often within the household. In addition, associations and educational organizations play an important role in passing on the skills and knowledge through classes or workshops. Today, bearers and practitioners weave Al Sadu either as a hobby or to sell it. Al Sadu objects reflect the importance of female roles in Bedouin society, and nowadays Al Sadu has become less a functional object and more an object signifying a tradition and a deep culture.


Al Sadu is said to be an ancient tribal weaving craft that artistically portrays Arabian nomadic peoples’ rich cultural heritage and instinctive expression of natural beauty. Woven geometric and figurative patterns and symbols reflect the traditional tribal lifestyle, the desert environment and the weavers’ creative self-expression. The textiles and weaving practice can be seen as an extension of the weaver's hand, and the graceful moving pace of the camel. Camels were used for transportation and food, but also for textile production, and so their figurative symbolism is important. Camel symbols and tribal animal brandings can create a complex visual code depicted in highly prized woven Sadu textiles. With the demise of tribal existence and the decline of associated weaving skills and memories, the demands for tribal camel textiles have virtually ceased, and so Al Sadu weaving and nomadic animal husbandry, once crucial and vital, is in decline.




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