The historical weaving heritage of the Arabian Peninsula is a vibrant and essential element of traditional material culture. Traditional al Sadu woven textiles convey the Bedouin women weavers’ ideals of their rich heritage and instinctive awareness of natural beauty, with patterns and designs messaging the nomadic lifestyle, the desert environment, and the emphasis of aesthetic symmetry and balance due to the making process.
The significance of al Sadu weaving as a decorative craft, is due not only to its importance as material culture but also because of its functionality, which served the everyday needs of the traditional Bedouin nomadic lifestyle. Al Sadu textiles can be linked and feature in many different aspects of Bedouin community life, and are testimony to the weavers’ ‘practical achievements, their manual dexterity and aesthetic values’. But like a visual language, decorative iconography and patterns create a lexicon of symbols, with messages conveying the creativity and history of desert and coastal nomadic dwelling, and providing glimpses into the creative lives of the women who wove them and the tribal nomads who lived among them.
This site focuses on my research about traditional Sadu weaving technique, and my experiences of working in the desert in the Middle East. The interpretation of the woven symbols, motifs and patterns, establishing a wealth of meaning and communication from the codes or pictographic language, by exploring the oral history and memories of a dwindling number of contemporary Bedouin women weavers in Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.
Dr Keireine Canavan