In 2011, the Bedouin weaving craft of Al Sadu was added to
UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding
Narrow bands of geometric designs in red, black, and white, interspersed with vibrant hues of yellow and green, are characteristic features of Al Sadu, a traditional form of weaving that originated amongst Bedouin communities in the UAE.
At the Heritage Crafts Village at the 18th edition of Sharjah Heritage Days that concluded on Saturday at the historic Heart of Sharjah district, skilled artisans representing the General Women’s Union in Abu Dhabi showcased this artistic craft that once provided soft furnishings for tents and decorative accessories for camels.
According to Nadia Al Shamsi, a representative of the organisation, “Al Sadu is a living tradition as it continues to be pursued by women for both personal and communal needs. In the Bedouin culture, this handweaving craft – woven from goat and sheep hair, was mainly used by women to create tents, carpets, saddles, belts, and other trappings for camels. In the nomadic past, the craft originated as a resourceful way of utilising readily available material for shelter and comfort.”
A minimal palette of black and white was traditionally used due to the scarcity of resources, she said. “Colours were introduced at a later stage and the dyes were extracted from natural ingredients such as turmeric, henna, saffron, and the indigo plant.”
The unique, colourful designs and geometric motifs of Al Sadu are inspired by life in the desert and represent palm trees, sand dunes, and camels.
To prepare the yarn, wool is sheared, and then sorted according to colour and length. After removing plants, dust, or soil, it is cleaned and combed through before being spun into yarn on a spindle. Once the yarn is dyed, the process of handweaving begins.
A small carpet takes up to 30 days to weave.
A pinnacle of Emirati creativity, this Bedouin craft today adorns carpets, pillows, cushions, and tents found at several shopping malls or majlises across the UAE.