Endangered Weavers

UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list protects intangible aspects of cultural heritage, including oral histories, performing arts, and knowledge of traditional crafts endangered by industrialization. One of the most recent additions to the list is Al Sadu weaving, a traditional warp-faced plain weave practiced by Bedouin women in the rural United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.). This video shows the Al Sadu textile tradition from the processing of the yarn to the weaving of intricate symbolic designs passed down through generations.


In recent years, the traditional nomadic lifestyle has become all but impossible, and many community members have settled in industrial areas. Only an estimated 150-200 Al Sadu weavers remain, nearly all of them over the age of 50, because most young women are simply not interested in traditional weaving. By placing Al Sadu on its Intanglible Cultural Heritage list, UNESCO is giving this centuries-old practice much-needed publicity in hopes that governments will create incentives for young Al Sadu women to learn and preserve their weaving traditions.

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