Al Sadu, traditional weaving skills in the United Arab Emirates
Inscribed in 2011 (6.COM) on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding
Country(ies): United Arab Emirates
- Al Sadu, traditional weaving skills in the United Arab Emirates
Al Sadu is a traditional form of weaving practised by Bedouin women in rural communities of the United Arab Emirates to produce soft furnishings and decorative accessories for camels and horses. Bedouin men shear the sheep, camels and goats, and the wool is cleaned and prepared by the women. The yarn is spun on a drop spindle, then dyed, then woven on a floor loom using a warp-faced plain weave. The traditional colours are black, white, brown, beige and red, with distinctive patterns in the form of narrow bands of geometric designs. Weavers often gather in small groups to spin and weave, exchanging family news and occasionally chanting and reciting poetry. Such gatherings are the traditional means of transmission: girls learn by watching, and are gradually given tasks to do, such as sorting the wool, before learning the more intricate skills involved. However, the rapid economic development and social transformations brought about by the advent of oil in the Emirates have caused a sharp decline in the practice of Al Sadu. The pastoral Bedouin communities have dispersed among urban settlements, and young women increasingly work outside the home. The bearers of Al Sadu are now mostly older women whose numbers are declining.
Decision 6.COM 8.21
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, as follows:
- U1: Developed by Bedouin women as an integral part of their nomadic life in the desert, the Al Sadu weaving skills have been transmitted through generations and recreated according to the community’s current needs;
- U2: The decline of the pastoral mode of life, the decreasing number of practitioners, limited local economic opportunities for generating income and a lack of interest in learning traditional skills among the younger generation of women threaten the viability of the element;
- U3: The safeguarding measures correspond with the needs identified and can contribute to sustainable development and awareness of the element while improving the economic situation of the bearers; activities include regional and local training centres, governmental and NGO funds, awards and promotion activities, education and capacity building, and intellectual property protection;
- U4: A number of documents are provided expressing the consent of important actors and organizations that were involved in the elaboration of the nomination;
- U5: Al Sadu weaving has been included in the Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, maintained by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH).
Inscribes Al Sadu, traditional weaving skills in the United Arab Emirates on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding;
Commends the State Party for the breadth and diversity of safeguarding measures proposed, but encourages it to ensure that practitioners are fully involved in their planning and implementation;
Takes note that weaving is widely practised in the region and further encourages the State Party to consider a multinational nomination.
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