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The Tent and its Contents: a Study of the Traditional Arts of Weaving by the Otaibah Tribe in Saudi Arabia

Description: This was an ethnographic study of the woven tent objects produced by the Bedouin Otaibah tribe in Najd, central Saudi Arabia; the study examines origin, techniques, character and significance of their weavings. A major objective of the researcher was to discern the relationship between the weavers' development of traditions and the factors of technique, medium and perceived meaning. The method used was investigative fieldwork that included techniques of face to face interviews and participant observation. Interviews with 50 Bedouin female weavers in Najd were conducted for 8 months. Background information on the Otaibah tribe and their traditional way of life was provided. The review of the literature of traditional arts, folk arts and art education illustrates that there is limited accessible information concerning the general history of traditional arts in Saudi Arabia. A discussion of the aesthetic value, definitions and roles of traditional art, tribal art and the differences between art and crafts was included. Analysis of data answered the study's questions through a presentation of the findings of the fieldwork. The Otaibah tribe has its own unique style of weaving. Information gathered from participant observation and documents from the Haifa Faisal Collection of Saudi Arabian Traditional Arts in Chicago supplements information obtained by interview. The findings indicate that as a result of modernization and settlement, traditional Bedouin weavings are gradually being replaced. Weavers find themselves forced to compete with a deluge of imported machine-made goods, a development changing structure of the culture from nomadic to semi--modernized creating a new foundation of social and economic life for the society. The.results of the study provide a curriculum base for art education in Saudi Arabia. Suggestions for further studies, recommendations and the implications for art education are included.
Date: December 1998
Creator: Alruwais, Bader A.