Histories & Culture

Weaving is a traditional craft practiced all over the Arab countries. In Morocco, carpet weaving is a source of income for some villages. In Bahrain’s west-coast villages, cotton is woven into brightly colored cloths, called “awzar" in Bahrain, which are worn by villagers around the waist during hot weather. The "abba", the traditional black garment worn by Bahraini women, is also woven by cloth weavers in the village of Bani Jamra. Some abbas are embellished with an interwoven gold thread, creating a rich contrast against the black cloth. In winter, sailors weave sail-cloth.

Other forms of weaving are based upon locally occurring materials. Rush matting is woven from grass found along the boundary between saline coastal soils and those irrigated by spring-water. Rush mats produced in Bahrain by Sitra craftsmen, are used in mosques and houses throughout that country.

Basketwork utilizes dried palm leaves generally collected from the weavers’ immediate surroundings. The branches on which the dates grow, called the “asigh” in Bahrain, are split by craftsmen into long strips and are ready for weaving. The split lengths of palm are particularly strong and are used as the foundation frame of round baskets. Once the foundation has been made it is bound with softer, more pliable strips of palm frond. Date baskets with lids take up to three days to complete.