Yemeni textile Handicraft, art and finance [Archives:2005/871/Last Page]

August 25 2005

By Yasser Al-mayasy
Yemen Times Staff
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Cloth embroidery is an old craft which used to be dominant in most of the Arab world, Though it is now a fading craft in most of these countries.

In Yemen this craft evolved as a necessity. It used to meet their needs in different occasions, then it survived as an inheritance from ancestors and became a source of living for a large number of families.

In spite of the development of textile manufacture, the popular Yemeni textile is still practiced by handicrafts and embroidery makers. It dominates the Yemeni markets, and Yemeni shops are still stuffed with these products.

This handicraft is deep-rooted in Yemeni history. They are still surviving in spite of the extinction of the social values that it used to represent.

The handicraft of textile in Yemen is one of the popular industries that yields economic outcome. Several families are now dependent on these crafts as their source of living. Each Yemeni region has now its own different sort of textile product that suits social its traditions.

Manufacturers are training their posteriors on the basics of textile embroidery. The objects that those manufacturers use in their variegations depend on their environment that could be extracted from stars, Koranic graphic texts, prayers and sometimes social and national symbols are being variegated.

Strings used in this craft are imported from Iran, but all the other tools which are needed for the different processes are made from the local wood. They also import other tools for embroidery and sewing.

Belief and social beliefs

Popular hand made dressing have a faith back- ground. There is a belief of some families in old Sana'a, that a black and white hand made coat should necessarily be worn by the groom. They believe that this reflects the fertility and aptitude of the groom for future happy life with his bride. This sort of coat is Called “Yalaq”

A bamboo hat which is called “khozaran” should be worn by grooms in the western parts of Yemen, particularly in Tehama. It is ornamented with colored strings that add smartness to the groom's appearance and give an impression of happiness for entering into the new marriage life.

The old men in some parts of Yemen, put a shawl on their shoulders in special religious and social occasions. They are also worn on the heads by some chiefs to show their distinction within the family or the community.

Male dresses vary from one region to another. Most important among these is the “zanah”. It is made of silk that is ornamented with golden strings on the edges. The shape of this Zannah differs from one area to another. In Sana'a, it is round in shape and covers the lower part of the man's body up to the feet. It covers the same part of the body in Hadrmout, but has a different name, “Almi'waz” .In other areas it is called “Al-foota” The name Zanah came from the Arabic word “Zinah”, which means ornament. As for Al-mi'waz” it also came from another word that means “Awaz” that means need, or the need of man for his dress.

These hand made textiles are now in vogue in the popular Yemeni markets. Ladies dresses have the great share of these. Of these is the bride's dress with flower ornamented front that reflects beauty of nature. There are verities of cloth for making ladies clothes. Some sorts are used for making robes, dresses, underwear, underpants, which have bottoms colored with wool or silk golden strings.

There is a belief in some Yemeni areas that hand spun clothes, in which holly names of god are dappled, should be worn so that they will protect them from envious eyes and evil sprits. Those dapples are the most marvelous in the couples' clothes.

The handicraft in Yemen constitutes manufacture of carpets and silk furnishings that are ornamented with religious and historical drawings.

The Yemeni hand made dresses which are spread allover Yemen, are responsible for the ununified uniform in Yemen, but they remain to be an economical recourse for many Yemeni families.