The talli embroidery or braiding is one of the authentic clothing crafts still popular in the United Arab Emirates. Emirati women have been doing it, like, forever because no one knows when this handicraft was first invented. The talli embroidering is a rather complicated and time-consuming process, girls start to learn how to do it around 5 years old, but the artful pieces made by talli technique are worth all the effort – they are beautiful!
The talli embroidery is a folk craft traditionally performed in the UAE, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. This embroidery technique was invented by Bedouins, who used it to decorate the cuffs, collars, and borders of their clothes. Though, no one can say for sure when it appeared. It seems like Emirati women have been doing it forever.
For this craft, the artisan needs a special pillow and a little stand called “kajooja”. The pillow is put on this stand and used as a support. The pattern is made – or rather woven or braided – with several different bobbins of thread. Sometimes, there are only 3-5 threads, but to make more elaborate pieces, they use up to 50 bobbins.
Originally, talli weavers used real gold or silver threads, but today, they buy a synthetic metallic thread and mix them with cotton or silk threads of various colors to create a pattern. The most popular colors to be mixed with golden and silver are black, blue, white, red, and green. Though, modern talli samples can be of any color, including bright pink, acid green, and other weird shades.
The craft of talli is not easy, Emirati females learn to do it since childhood. And also, this process is very time-consuming, so you must love this activity to do it.
The talli embroidery craft is still practiced these days, even though you can easily buy any industrially-produced lace or adornments you can think of. Women weave intricate and sparkly strips of fabric, which they then use to embellish the outfits. This process is rather complicated, you need a lot of skill and experience to produce high-quality pieces. But also, it’s fun to gather with other women, sit, talk, and make artful embroidery.
Here you are a few examples of Emirati jalabiyas adorned with talli embroidery. Don’t they look marvelous?!