Rug weaving

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Country: Jordan

Rugs of Bani Hamida are handwoven Jordanian rugs from a village called Makawir in the district of Madaba, which is located in the central region of Jordan, a town famous for its natural wool. Rugs are also made in Jarash, Ajloun, Tafila, Karak, and Badiya. It is one of the oldest weaving techniques still alive today and continues on from generation to generation. The art of weaving rugs in the region originated in the Levant thousands years ago.

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A woman using ground loom weaving a rug at Makawir village, The Bani Hamida Women’s Weaving Project, JRF, photo: Jordan River Foundation

As a result of the Bedouin and urban style of life, which depends on breeding sheep, the wool obtained from local animals is used as raw materials adding colors like red, yellow, dark blue, black. The colors are all natural dyes that are extracted from various plants—mineral dyes such as indigo for blue, yellow from roots and leaves of cumin and red from pomegranate peels and sometimes colours are even extracted from insects.

Washing, carding, spinning and dyeing of the thread is all done by hand with the use of simple tools. Rug weaving in Jordan is carried out by women at their homes. Mainly the ground loom is used. This requires good expertise and innovative skills in order to create unique design patterns. In the past, rugs were designed and created by the weavers themselves. But today, designers are able to customise rugs according to customer’s satisfaction. Traditional rugs are in high market demand for their quality, colors, simple designs and fair price. They are widely used as decorative art giving the traditional touch to Jordanian homes. The Jordanian government began to use these rugs as special gifts, along with other traditional handicrafts products, for official delegations who visit Jordan.

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Bani Hamida rug style, photo: Adeeb Atwan

The estimated number of people working in rug weaving across Jordan is more than 600 people. There are thirteen villages in the mountains overlooking the Dead Sea. Settlers are from Bani Hamida tribes, they are well known for their creativity in weaving rugs. Rugs are available in Jordan River Foundation showrooms and different handicraft stores in Jordan.

A new generation of women are now leading this art form. Halima Al Qa’aida is one of the famous weavers from Makawir. Good experience in weaving rugs and training courses have allowed her to become the manager of The Bani Hamida’s Women’s Weaving Project, a JRF project founded by Jordan River Foundation in her area.

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