THE ART OF STITCHING KUMMAH

By: Anirban Ray

Muscat resident, 40 year old Zuwaina al Ghazalee has been stitching Omani caps, kummah, since she was 15.

“I learnt the craft from my family,” she said while giving finishing touches to a cap at Amerat Park’s heritage village.

zuwaina

Zuwaina runs a shop with her husband at Muttrah Souq – one of the oldest in Oman.

At the festival, Zuwaina is the only one showcasing this unique craft of stitching a kummah which is an integral part of an Omani man’s traditional attire.

With two assistants, Zuwaina said, she stitches nearly 50 caps a day. It usually takes around a month to stitch a cap but Zuwaina accomplishes the feat by sewing pre-embroidered patchworks onto the cap to speed up the process. “These caps are the epitome of Omani culture and are different from the ones worn in other Gulf countries. The Muscat Festival is a big opportunity for us to display our culture to the world.

“Foreign tourists too purchase these caps. I often give them away to young boys as mementoes as I want to promote and showcase the craft.”

Traditionally made of white cotton, kummah is hand-embroidered and the distinctive technique is called tanjim which requires the embroiderer to stitch in full and half circles (najim) or stars (nus najim).

The cloth for making kummah is imported from India, China and other countries. It is first washed and dried before it is cut into various sizes and stitched.

The most challenging part, however, lies in designing them, said Zuwaina.

“Different people want different designs and patterns. Most people prefer red and green colours.”

Prices of caps range from RO30 to RO50.

SOURCE: MUSCAT DAILY