Bedouin Weaving of Saudi Arabia and its Neighbours (paperback)


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Portable and practical, tough and colourful, Bedouin textiles played a vital and functional part in the life of the Arab nomads. Bedouin women were expected to master the art of making entire tents as well as a wide range of rugs, saddlebags and other equipment able to withstand the rigours of the desert. They took a fierce pride in their work and produced, on the simplest ground looms, textiles that were at once hard-wearing and of vibrant aesthetic appeal. The true craftspeople of the desert, Bedouin women wove to provide the very fabric of day-to-day living.

Joy Hilden, a leading authority, describes the weaving techniques in the context of the Bedouin’s transitional mode of life, as they adapt from their centuries-old nomadic existence to being semi- and fully settled. She gathered her information on dyeing, spinning and weaving while living and travelling in Saudi Arabia, extending her scope with trips to other parts of the Arabian Peninsula and adjacent Arab countries. She describes visits to Bedouin families, desert markets and urban centres where Bedouin gathered. Her work comes at a time when many tribal peoples are losing their cultural traditions and, with them, their crafts and the material of everyday life in the desert.

This is the most exhaustive study to date of the weaving methods practised by the Bedouin of Saudi Arabia. Profusely illustrated, and giving thorough instruction in techniques, Bedouin Weaving is an essential companion for collectors and connoisseurs of flat-weave textiles.