’Our Crafts…Our legacy”
The Founder —Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi.
“Our crafts are the legacy of our forefathers, and must be protected and preserved for future genera-tions to cherish and learn from.”
From its base in Sharjah, a dynamic emirate known as the cultural capital of the UAE, the Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council has been establishing pioneering programmes —both locally and globally— that preserve, engage, elevate, and empower the art of crafts and their creators.
Unique in its mission, Irthi gives a voice for the woven creations and the tireless meticulous hands that craft them. Irthi’s story has many threads, and here we discover how each thread has a purpose, and a legacy.
Building cultural bridges, its reach extends beyond the UAE, where Irthi is introducing Emirati craftswomen to international designers, artists and artisans of different crafts, partnering them up to produce a unique merge between traditional artisanal techniques and cutting-edge design in relevant contemporary Emirati pieces, each with a touch of tradition.
Through its various platforms, Irthi is developing new international market opportunities for crafts and their creators.
Hundreds of artisans from across the UAE, Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, Central Asia and South East Asia regions have had their lives change both economically and socially through Irthi’s unique collection of vocational training and initiatives. These initiatives not only elevate the creators’ personal skills but connect them to each—creating a unique close-knit community of crafters from different generations.
Through Irthi’s many initiatives, each artisan adds their own colour, their own touch, and their own story to the bigger legacy of creative crafts.
Irthi collections have been exhibited at renowned global platforms such as the London Design Fair, Maison d’Exceptions at Premiere Vision Paris and Dubai’s Downtown Design.
Besides successful stories of mentorship, partnership and the creation of profitable re-contextualised traditional crafts, Irthi’s projects have led to Sharjah being recognised as a city of ‘Crafts & Folk Art’ for the traditional craft of Talli in 2019 by UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network.
But this is just the beginning.
Irthi will continue to weave its legacy, together with the artisans it supports, one stitch at a time…
Through meticulous research and documentation, Irthi is building a one of a kind comprehensive data-base of craft-related terminologies, the different patterns and their origins and the artisans —both local and international—who create them.
Terms like ‘Sayr Yaay’, one of the basic Talli patterns —which in literal terms means ‘back and forth’ are just one of the many words that will forever be saved for current and future generations of crafts and researchers.
Preserving the value of crafts through craft innovation, development of textiles and creations, men-torship and workshops, Irthi in just a few years, has become the ‘reference’ point for the history of UAE crafts and their stories. It is also building its reputation as a reference for regional crafts and the stories they carry in their patterns. By protecting indigenous craft heritage, Irthi saves its varied forms for current and future generations.