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by Muslim Girls Association
Ferka is quite the heritage. It’s a traditional craft inherited by the dynasty the people of Naqada since the era of the pharaohs. Ferka is the production of shawls made of dry palm leaves, cotton and linen. Naqada people mastered crafting using manual looming and their industry flourished in the seventies so much that Naqada people had more than one loom at their home and they exported to many African countries. However, the deterioration of the economic situation Egypt experienced many of these artisans were forced to discard looming.
After a quick research we found that the problem has two main aspects:
Their products are traditional and high in quality but always the same and hadn’t changed for since many decades.
Their environment doesn’t allow them to counsel experts to help them develop their products further on the marketing level or design level.
If you are a fashion designer, graphic designer, product designer or interested in design in general, we invite you to solve this challenge.
Ferka is craft based on handmade flax textile. People of Naqada use this flax textile to produce clothes and many other textile-based products. So we want you to design new products made of flax that is fashionable. Bonus points will be given for the balance between fashion and the traditional identity of the Ferka.
Ferka products especially silk sheets and silk bedspreads tops other products made of industrail rayon. These Ferka products were exported to African countries and especially Sudan as they use them in certain occasions as part of their rituals and customs.
Ferka products also are used African capitals as the traditional fashion, like Khartoum, Nairobi, Addis Ababa and others. Women think they bring good fortune and blessings. They also influence them with an aura of decency and respect. These sheets are worn by being wrapped around the body. Furthermore, the African bride may require her bridegroom to provide a number of these sheets alongside the dower. Seventies and eighties were the golden period for the Ferka of Narkada to prosper as it generating around four million dollars. However, the recent situation of Sudan and other African countries halted back this industry.
Ferka now suffers endangering recession that artisans are leaving it behind after more than 9000 families solely depended on Ferka. Just like most handicrafts are now neglected and abandoned and appear only in picture and historical texts. On the bright side though the tourism market in Egypt is an attraction for the source of such salable products to sell, especially that the diversity in the production recently adopted moved water a little bit. Ferka artisans started designing new shawls and sheets and called it Touristic Shal to sell it in touristic areas. It’s made of pure cotton which is used now to make Hijab for ladies, curtains, long dresses, and many other products to suit all tastes.
It’s a craft that is carefully loomed with excellence to produce beautiful paintings in the form of textiles that harmonizes with the eastern and western taste alike.
The low level of income led to a decline in the standard of living.
The economic and commercial value of the city of Nagada was lost.
The obsolescence of the craft
Young Muslim Women Association of Naqada is one of the leading associations in the field of the development of traditional crafts and especially of course "Ferka". The association has a "Center of Young Women for Ferka and Carpets". It’s built on an area of 200 meter squares and has 13 wooden looms worked by 15 girls and women; loom dyeing and warping threads. This center is considered one of the largest craft centers in Qena. Another center opened in Hager Dunfik in Naqada and it accommodates 10 looms.
(Misplaced paragraph: Naqada is a unique center where several distinct industries enriches the long history of the place and you may not exaggerate to say that Naqada is completely unique when it comes to Ferka)
In May 2007 Young Muslim Women Association of Naqada established a center for Ferka and hand-woven carpets in cooperation with the Nile Basin Initiative, where the center is trying to restore life to this craft through an advanced center with 5 highly-developed looms to weave Ferka manually. The Ferka looms was fundamentally developed when it comes to structure of the loom since it used to require a hole in the ground and it was tiring besides being inhumane. Now the loom is made of wood and cylinders and it’s above the ground level to help the artisan increase their productivity and develop the craft further.
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