by Alice from Germany
In 2021 I visited Jordan for the first time. The Wadi Rum desert as a place of ancient Bedouin cultures touched me so much that I now live here and work with Sandra (founder of LUMEYO) to give the brand even more visibility by telling its Bedouin by Design stories. Enjoy this little journey into one evening of LUMEYO life…
Jordan, Udruh, Winter 2022 – We are sitting around the sauna-hot stove in the women’s room. All of the Bedouin women wear dark robes and dark headscarves. In one of the corners, a television babbles to itself. Sandra and I in between. Me with a recorder and notepad, Sandra with a measuring tape and her colorful LUMEYO bags. One of the daughters immediately offers us tea, in small glasses on a silver tray. Shukran iktir / thank you very much. Ahlan / welcome to our Bedouin life.
I love hearing stories about how Bedouin life used to be. The eyes turn to me. One of the older women, Umm Mohammed, smiles good-naturedly and warmly at me. Her gaze promises wisdom and a serenity that only hard-earned life experience can give you. Um Abdu Rahman begins to narrate:
“A few decades ago we were nomads without homes, we wandered from place to place following our goats. We ourselves lived in tents, in the bajt alscha3r (Bedouin tent, literally: hair tent). It is woven from goat hair, black with white stripes. The goat hair swells up in the rain so that the tent is also protected from the rain. The blankets on the floor are made from sheep’s wool for warmth and coziness.”
On her cell phone, Um Faisal shows us a picture of the goats whose hair they used and spun into thread.
As long as the Bedouins were not yet sedentary, women were responsible for weaving their tents. They spun threads from the animal hair, then the weaving began. Together. Weaving has always been the anchor for the Bedouin women’s community. In the past and again today – at LUMEYO.
I look at our little group of women. I see faces marked by life, watch the quick movements of hands when sewing on the LUMEYO logos. We sit together, share our stories, our joy and our laughter and draw the past into the present with our conversations: goats, donkeys, camels, fire, tea — images arise in my inner eye – I can see their past, their old nomadic life.
Bedouin by Design
Rather incidentally, we exchange ideas about new designs and patterns. What colors do we want to bring into our lives? Then as now, the art of weaving is a way to enliven the ever-expanding desert environment with bright colors. With simple, geometric shapes whose repetition and symmetry are typical of traditional Bedouin weaving.
Today it is mainly older Bedouin women who are master weavers. They play a key role in passing on their skills to their daughters.
The fabric is woven on a ground loom, with hands and feet and the skill of an artist until it forms a tightly woven textile that can be used for a lifetime. However, due to the sedentary nature of most Bedouins, the art of weaving plays an ever smaller role in the Bedouin’s everyday life. The art, as a symbol of an ancient culture, is being forgotten from generation to generation.
Here by the fire, in Udhruh, with the artists from LUMEYO, I feel that the Bedouin weaving tradition is still alive, not only in the handwoven bags and rugs, but also in our small community.
When past and present meet
Later, filled with a wonderfully delicious meal of rice and red vegetable sauce, black sugar tea and impressions of immeasurable value, we set off into the starry night to walk the dogs up and down the street, Sandra and Um Abdu Rahman in front, me and the children behind. Somewhere they conjured up warm popcorn and so I play with them that we are sitting in the cinema and the stars and the figures in front of us would be our movie. We laugh and enjoy our time together under the vastness of this heavenly tent. On the way back home to Wadi Rum, we are a thousand times grateful for these moments between the Bedouin past and present.
As one of the LUMEYO instagram followers put it in wonderful words:
When the past and the present meet – creativity lies.