Sulafa a household name in Gaza for quality embroidery, supports approximately 400 local artisans by commissioning traditional and contemporary embroidered goods. The purchase of a Sulafa product allows these women to support their families, which often rely on only one source of income.
By ensuring that women can work from home, Sulafa allows women to balance with their home responsibilities and secure income to support a better life for their children.
Sulafa is more than a way for women to earn a living. It is also a way to preserve the traditions and culture of embroidery within the Palestinian society and pass these essential skills from generation to the next. Stories depicting life in Palestinian villages and communities are conserved in dresses, scarves, pillows and many other garments, making embroidery a way to tell and remember Palestinian heritage.
TRADITIONAL ARTISTIC HERITAGE
Embroidery has been used to decorate cloth and clothing for centuries. as a traditional way for women to express both individual skill and a connection to their own village and peers. It is an art that take years to perfect.
As a Palestinian traditional craft, it has been handed down through many generations, and utilizes a variety of techniques to make attractive decoration on clothes that illuminates subjects and themes that are integral to the lives of many Palestinian women.
Traditional patterns focus on geometric shapes that are based on items that are most familiar to Palestinian women in their daily surroundings. Depending on the region in Palestine, the patterns can include cypress trees, bunches of grapes, apple trees, chickens, pigeons, rainbows, roses, flower pots, among other objects.
The embroidery work in Sulafa products is 100% hand-made, created by women of all ages. These women are supported by embroidery instructors, who distribute work to the embroiderers and monitor product quality. Most of the work is done at home, but women also have the opportunity to gather at local community-based organizations where they can meet with peers, and ask questions of each other and from the instructors. After the embroidery work for each product is completed, products are finished by tailors in Sulafa’s sewing and finishing workshop.
Behind every design is a name, and behind both there is a story.
Sulafa’s products tell the stories of women living in Gaza. Women, who bear an increasing burden of supporting their families. Although it is labour-intensive and time-consuming, so many women in Gaza are willing to embroider mountains of stitches while also juggling household responsibilities in exchange for a wage that will feed their families.
Sulafa is differentiated by its ability to produce modern designs while keeping and maintaining the Palestinian identity in those designs.
The ability to earn a living for Palestine refugee women and their families is essential; however, they also desire to embroider and show their skill in making wonderful products despite limitations from their families on their freedom of movement and working time. Poverty is a part of their lives; however, Sulafa embroiderers are ambitious and intend to overcome the obstacles they face through personal power and courage.
Sulafa embroiderers use two different stitches: the
traditional cross stitch, and the Madani stitch, which is more common to the
West Bank. The cross-stitch is relatively simple; however, making a large
patterned item with this stitch takes perseverance, consistency, time, and
Although Sulafa maintains Palestinian traditions in its embroidery through the use of the cross-stitch and traditional colour combinations, Sulafa also emphasizes innovation by designing products with new colour combinations, patterns, fabrics, and stitches. Aiming to satisfy our clients’ needs - this is in addition to the flexibility offered to customers in customizing product colour combination, designs and dimension.
Sulafa is a non-profit project established by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in 1950.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the
General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to
some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine
refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their
full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their
plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social
services, protection and microfinance.
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