“‘al Sadu’ as commonly preserved as carpet or tent decoration, is more than that to us,” says HRH Princess Basma bint Majed bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. “It is a craft that showcases our grandmothers’ skills through generations. We are not only preserving the skilled techniques of this beautiful handicraft, but also creating an awareness for it.” The president of Riyadh-based Art of Heritage explains that the organization’s ethos is to uphold and grow Saudi culture via the training of Saudi women artisans. “As new generations lack weaving techniques in the schools, we are doing our best to preserve all shapes for the modern world. In our new collection, we mix ancient skilled techniques in contemporary fashion to showcase on the international fashion scene.” Art of Heritage is affiliated with the country’s oldest charity, Al Nahda, founded in 1963 by the late Queen Effat and chaired by Princess Sara bint Faisal Al Saud. Today, it employs more than 100 female artisans. The organization also oversees Yadawy, which employs roughly 40 women with special needs who create pottery lines.
This article was originally published in Vogue Arabia’s January 2019 issue.
A founding value of Art of Heritage is that any woman should be given the opportunity to make an independent income. The organization also houses some 3,000 Saudi garments and 6,000 jewelry pieces and artifacts with an edit of the latter recently on display at the Bahrain National Museum in Manama. The embroidery technique of Al Sadu was originally handwoven by Bedouins. Men would shear goats and camel wool for the women of the tribes, who would then clean and dye it with earthy henna and saffron, lending to the traditional palette of neutrals, browns, and reds. Women would sit together weaving geometrical shapes on garments, carpets, and animal decorations and majlis pillows and mats that would tell their own stories. “The collection empowers ladies from rural areas by enabling them to develop this artistic technique and showcase it in a contemporary style to people around the globe,” says the princess. “This will let the world know about our beautiful culture.” Featuring pure wool and Kashmiri fabric, the Art of Heritage Sadu collection includes double-sided pieces, while others are lined with special handwoven silk. The luxurious designs go beyond the traditional palette, with warm pastels introduced on oversized blazers bearing geometric shapes. A canary-yellow coat with embroidered cuff sleeves and a black coat with floral embroidery will appeal to all women looking for garments that tell a story while supporting their sisters in Saudi.
The collection is available at the Art of Heritage boutique in Centeria Mall, Riyadh. Artofheritage.com.sa