Carpet making is one of the crafts Syria is most famous for. Before the crisis, looms could be seen in souks and artisan workshops, where visitors could watch traditional and new designs weaved by hand with painstaking intricacy.
In many areas, this industry has been suspended due to the crisis, but now an IFRC and Syrian Arab Red Crescent project is bringing back carpet weaving in two areas of Rural Damascus.
In Al-Qutayfah and Mouadamet Al-Qalamoun, two rural towns about 25km from Damascus, 58 women recently graduated from a livelihoods training course in carpet weaving skills. The project has multiple aims – to support displaced and vulnerable women and their families, boost the local economy, and to revive a traditional craft.
Each of the women received training in weaving and how to create and realize their designs. The designs are marked out on squared paper to provide a guide for transferring the pattern to the loom. Some are traditional, others depict famous places like the ruins of Palmyra, and others show characters from children’s books and films. Advice on marketing and sales of the carpets is also part of the course, helping the women become self-sufficient.
Yolanda Davila, IFRC livelihoods delegate in Syria, explains:
“Each of the women now owns a loom and the raw materials needed to make carpets. With these items, they can develop their own small business enterprise to support themselves and their families. This project is both practical, as it gives people the ability to support themselves financially, and therapeutic as it is an outlet for creativity and gives the women pride and dignity in their new-found craft skills.”
Sahar, one of the women who took part in the project, plans to sell carpets to support her elderly parents. Together with her friend, they designed and wove a traditional carpet in cream, green and black. “We were the first to finish, even though we were short on time and were worried we wouldn’t get it done. But it is perfect, and I was so happy to see it on sale with the others. Now I will start a small business at my home. I have to work in order to help my father and mother as they are sick and need support. This project also helped me to get out of the house, to socialise and meet new people.”