Al Talli, traditional embroidery skills in the United Arab Emirates


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Inscribed in 2022 (17.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Dubai Culture & Art Authority, United Arab Emirates, 2020

Talli is a traditional handicraft practised in various parts of the United Arab Emirates. Today, the demand for Talli is at its highest before religious festivals (Eids) and the marriage season in the summer. Also known as Alseen, Talli is usually created with a combination of six cotton threads separated by a silver thread in the middle. These are skilfully woven into colourful shapes with symbolic meanings tied to life in the desert and at sea. A time-consuming craft, Talli is transmitted informally from mothers to daughters, as well as formally through courses and workshops held in schools, universities and heritage-development centres. The practice is also promoted during cultural events, festivals and competitions. The gathering of women in houses and residential neighbourhoods to braid Talli has a social dimension, as it provides an opportunity for social interaction and for the exchange of Talli knowledge. These gatherings also serve as cultural forums to share folk tales, proverbs and other verbal forms of the country’s intangible cultural heritage.