Traditional Woven Baskets by Arab and Jewish Women

Product: Traditional Woven Baskets
Producer: Arab and Jewish Women in Basket Weaving Workshops
Location: Kufr Manda

In Sindyanna of Galilee’s Visitor Center in Kufr Manda, Arab women are empowered with livelihood options through basket weaving workshops that have revived the traditional art of palm fronds weaving. The interaction between the Arab and Jewish women who participate in the multicultural workshops also helps develop collaboration and companionship between them through handicraft and educational activities.

While the women diligently craft each basket with their hands, they learn from one another, not just about the artisanal skill of basket weaving, but also how to bridge cultural divides and communicate, first with their eyes, and then, as their Hebrew/English/Arabic vocabulary improves, threads of their thoughts are seamlessly woven together and they begin sharing their experiences and ideas about raising children, delicious food, relationships, art, hardships and joys…in short – about life. For all of them, it is a unique, unprecedented opportunity to get to know the neighboring culture and develop genuine friendships through baskets of cooperation. Working collectively, the baskets are a collaborative effort incorporating the talent and energies of both Arab and Jewish women in the workshops.
Nurturing a multicultural meeting point and friendly atmosphere that overcome language barriers, the weaving workshops have played a key role in the Visitor Center’s activities since its opening in 2010. The teacher of the course, who also coordinates the training activities in the center, is helped by other women of the weavers group, working side by side with her.

For the participating women, weaving is not only a source of income, but also a way of expressing themselves. A whole world of crafts that they had no knowledge of previously has been opened to them. Thanks to the project, they learn to take responsibility. Forming a circle of weavers the course helps Arab women enter the work market.

Sindyanna of Galilee sells the woven baskets worldwide, ensuring that fair earnings and fair work terms are exercised throughout the value chain. The baskets travel great distances carrying their stories from the Arab village in the Galilee to the other side of the globe. Such is the story of the cooperation between Sindyanna of Galilee and “Kagoamidori”, the online store based in Tokyo, Japan.

“Kagoamidori – “the weaving bird” in Japanese – is an online store specializing in the art of basket weaving. It was opened in 2010 by Asako Ito and her husband, Yoshiro Ito. Serving primarily the Japanese public, which is a keen supporter of traditional design and handicrafts, the Tokyo based web store offers a rich assortment of baskets and woven goods originating in various countries across the globe.

Made from palm fronds, olive and terebinth branches, the woven baskets encapsulate the landscapes of the Galilee and are environmentally friendly. Their beauty is timeless, not only because of their conveyed coexistence message or their stories of empowered artisanal Arab women, but also because, unlike industrial materials, they age beautifully as time goes by. Made from flexible branches, the baskets can be formed into marvelous creative shapes and designs, reflecting the choice of materials, the applied techniques and the weavers’ personalities.

Read more stories about our basket weaving projects