Preserving Traditional Crafts
Traditional crafts tell an intricate and beautiful story about a region’s culture and heritage. Unfortunately, the speed and efficiency of mass production has meant that many of these crafts are at risk and are beginning to dissipate.
At Abadia we recognize that traditional crafts are intrinsically linked to culture and we value the knowledge and stories of the artisans that practice them. Our mission is to preserve this craftsmanship and to generate sustainable income for the artisans so they are more likely to pass their skills on to the next generation. We work closely with artisan groups, developing and incorporating handmade crafts into our products.
“Our mission is to preserve this craftsmanship and to generate sustainable income for the artisans so they are more likely to pass their skills on to the next generation.“
One of the first techniques we invested in was sadu, a form of traditional weaving from the Middle East with a rich history. Sadu was originally produced by bedouin women in rural communities for bait AlShaar, a tent that supported their nomadic lifestyle. These structures were well suited to desert life, protecting them from the elements, and could be packed down quickly and transported to the next location easily. Eventually sadu was adapted to adorn bait AlShaar with decorative pillows and rugs.
The Sadu Process
Traditional methods of creating sadu involve slow and delicate processes that require a great deal of skill and patience. The artisan begins by collecting, washing and drying camel or sheep wool. It’s then spun into yarn on a drop spindle, known as a nool, where the thread quickly but carefully passes through the woman’s fingers. Following that, the yarn is expertly dyed bright oranges and reds with materials found locally such as turmeric and saffron.
Finally the artisan uses a floor loom to weave the intricate bands of sadu. The patterns woven throughout are often inspired by nature, including trees, plants and land formations. The Ain Alhassa pattern for example, references the natural water reserves in the Alhassa region of Saudi Arabia.
Passed on through the generations
Traditionally women and their children would gather to spin and weave, all the while sharing stories, songs and poetry. These meetings acted as an informal conduit, ensuring culture and heritage were preserved and passed down to the next generation. Young girls would watch their mothers, aunts and grandmothers carefully, and over time they would learn patience and develop the different skills required to master the art of sadu.
“I learned it from my mother, I used to sit and watch her for hours. When she would step away I would try to copy her but I often ruined her work.”
– Um Ahmad, Sadu Master
Abadia + Sadu
If you look closely, delicate handwoven sadu features throughout our collections, embellishing accessories, the cuffs of our signature farwas and other designs. These details not only add to the aesthetic of a garment but connect the wearer to a story steeped in Arabian craftsmanship, culture and heritage.
At Abadia we have worked hard to develop a strong and beautiful relationship with the artisans that create the details in our collections. By bridging traditional craftsmanship with modern contemporary design our aim is to generate sustainable employment for these women for years to come. We are constantly assessing our impact to see how we can provide more support and are in the process of researching ways we can incorporate different handmade crafts into our designs in the future. Watch this space.