Craftswoman weaves icon of Levant heritage

Fringes of the traditional Levantine headwear ‘shmagh’, weaved by Jordanian artisan Shaymaa Abu Quderi. (Photos: Handout from Shaymaa Abu Quderi)
AMMAN — Young Jordanian artist Shaymaa Abu Quderi is using her skills to honor her culture and fuel a budding business. The twenty-six year old creates the elaborate fringes for shmagh, the popular headwear worn throughout the Levant. اضافة اعلان

Shmagh, the fringed scarf also known as “keffiyeh”, is a famous icon of Arab culture worn throughout the year on different occasions. Women hem the shmagh by knitting soft wool threads on the edges of the scarf, utilizing the sewing hook and weaving its edges with the prominent threads. Every few strings are tied together and then cut with the scissors to give the fringe its classic aesthetic.

Abu Quderi studied civil engineering at Mutah University, where she and her friends first came up with the idea of opening a business to craft the scarves. After the other members left, she went on with the project solo, until, eventually, she was able to participate in the Productive Youth Program. 

“The Productive Youth Program is one of the most beautiful initiatives and exercises to be offered. It was different from other exercises and it gave me motivation carry on,” she said in an interview with Jordan News. 

Abu Quderi has always supported her cultural heritage and its national symbols. She was trained at a session organized by the Bright Stars Association. 

She developed her business through continuous training, advertisements on Facebook, and frequent use of other social media platforms. “I reached the initiative of His Majesty King Abdullah, and I aspire to reach a bid for the Armed Forces and the Royal Court,” she said.

According to Abu Quderi, many things have changed since she started working, including greater financial freedom through increasing income, and the expansion of her business to include other employees.

“My mother was a fringe-weaving trainer. I liked the process of how the strings are formed and I learned from her,” she said. She explained that although the craft requires a lot of effort, it is not a difficult skill for a dedicated person.

Al Quderi works on a variety of fringes, such as the royal fringe, the prince fringe, the big bead, the middle size, and the small size, as per customers’ requests. She also has the shmagh available in diverse kinds of fabric. The strings are bought from wholesale stores, and each piece takes between three and five days of work. 

According to the artisan, the prices are both affordable to most customers and profitable.

Al Quderi now has loyal clients, one indication of her success, as she uses exhibitions and social networking sites to promote and advertise her work.

“Don’t stop working and keep trying until you achieve what makes you happy,” said the artisan and small business-owner. 

“Always keep moving with great power and faith, you can make the impossible possible, you only have to believe in yourself.”

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