Art & FashionLifestyle

Handicrafts in Kuwait: Once a source of Income, overshadowed by modernity

KUWAIT: Handicrafts in Kuwait were not merely an industry for winning bread or decorating Kuwaiti ancestors’ houses; they were rather a testament to the strong will in coping with hardships, opting to be creative and productive rather than inactive. These hand-made crafts have turned into a symbol of the Kuwaiti identity, part of the national heritage, history and memories. Many Kuwaitis, in olden times, earned their bread with these creative works, using their brain, hands and some primitive tools.”Al-Galaleef” were builders of wooden dhows that had sailed to remote regions and countries for trade and cruised across territorial waters on pearl diving journeys.


Some Kuwaitis were involved in “sadu,” weaving clothes including the “bisht,” a garment that is a national symbol too. Others works and household accessories were done with gold and clay. Following the oil boom, these simple industries started to fade away as the bulk of Kuwaitis sought jobs in the public sector for secured income, in addition to expanding scientific-technological development.


According to the annual report released by Kuwait Public Industrial Authority (PAI) (2017-2018), likened textile handicrafts have noticeably receded, with the record showing 1,142 permits between 2015 and 2016, compared to only 134 in 2016-2017 and 122 according to the latest report released by the authority in 2017-2018. As to wooden works, the permits reached 334 in the 2017-2018 period.


Yahya Jragh, who teaches handicrafts, called — in an interview with KUNA — on the government to support handcrafters to dedicate their maximum effort to these creativity works. Those engaged in carpentry and other wooden works suffer from shortage of supplies for the wood is largely imported from Turkey, the United States and Australia. Masira Al-Enezi, board member of the Kuwaiti handicrafts society, said Al-Sadu House was the first of its kind to be established in the whole Gulf.


The Al-Sadu Society prepares trainers, promotes the genuine industry and holds regular training and educating courses. Al-Enezi has lauded young Kuwaiti women who make various woven products such as bags, scarves and diverse accessories. Mtairah Al-Musallam, a woman weaver at Al-Sadu house, said she had been making Sadu works since the 1970s. She called for preservation of the heritage noting the long process of creating the ornamented and colored items, starting with sheep shearing. — KUNA

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