This straw plate was woven during the Hekayya Heritage Project, a participatory heritage project for women and children in rural Idlib, Syria. The project aimed to revive Syrian handcrafts which are at risk of being forgotten or suppressed and make them relevant to contemporary life. All over Syria, rural women wove straw for household use until the mid-twentieth century. This plate is called the Rabo’a K’aab (plate with a base), or the “hospitality plate,” and was used to offer guests fruits and sweets. The plate is a copy of a traditional one, which was used some 50 – 100 years ago.
Historically, women wove straw objects when rural areas suffered poverty and were used to be self-sufficient using available resources. This plate was woven in late 2018, during unrest in northern Syria. It symbolizes the role of women, the hospitality of rural areas in general, and presents an example of physical and conceptual migration and movement. In 2019, this object “migrated” from Syria to Turkey, then to Berlin, Germany. In 2019, this object “migrated” from Syria to Turkey, then to Berlin, Germany. A similar object is in Ethnological Museum of Berlin, which also “migrated” in the late nineteenth century from Syria to Berlin. Its concept and design- like our entire intangible heritage- were transferred from one generation to the next.
The women who worked this project were forced to flee many times. During the project, they were thankful to stay home, and they insisted on staying “home” despite the harsh situation. Last year, their town was bombed heavily, and the inhabitants had to flee. We have had no contact with them and no information about their whereabouts. This contribution is dedicated to them, wherever they are.
I have this object at home. For me, it symbolizes my rural origin and belonging. It also represents the Hekayya Heritage Project, which I worked on with passion; it was “weaving hope in difficult times.”
Mariam Bachich is the Director of the Hekayya Heritage Project.