MADE IN JORDAN
Artisanal work displayed for sale in Petra
At "Made in Jordan" you can see a huge range of hand made objects - all of them "made in Jordan" by local artisans. The manager/buyer is Wendy Botham, who came to Petra from Texas some fifteen years ago and who has remained there ever since. As she says, when one looks around "there are an awful lot of talented people out there", and having spent some time in this gallery/shop I have to agree with her. In her turn, Wendy is indefatigable in searching out new talents. Since the closure of the Noor al Hussein Foundation retail outlets many of these people have been having difficulty finding a selling point for their products and Made in Jordan must be a valuable resource for them.
All the objects that I have seen there, large or small, are of a very high quality and artistic value and it is not surprising that this shop has become popular with tourists in a very short time. The larger and more expensive objects are all unique in conception. I am showing here what I saw displayed in June 2005, but you may well find an entirely different selection if you visit - things get snapped up very quickly.
Notice the magnificent baby sized quilt at the head of the page! This is one of the products of the Jordan River Foundation (http://www.jordanriver.jo/), an organisation to support and encourage the women of Jordan to work both in the home and in workshops which are sponsored by the foundation. This is Queen Rania's special interest, and not unnaturally is well funded. Some more of these quilts, both patchwork and appliqué (this latter from Ghor al Safi) are shown above : they are very popular with visiting grandmothers, even though they are priced at between 80 and 100JD.
There are more "baby blankets" and quilts on show. These are done in quite a different style by the Women's Trade Cooperative at Salt, who specialise in using recycled fabrics in attractive ways. You can't see it well here, but the clown's jacket is free floating and ties shut!
As you will have gathered the majority of these objects are hand made by the Jordanian women, often at home, when they have time! It is normal therefore, that sewing and embroidered objects should be in the majority. There are a great many cushions decorated with embroidery, patchwork or painted by hand, tee shirts, book covers and various cloth objects. Here below are some beautifully embroidered wall hangings.
And here is the prize : Raghad's embroidered dresses (see separate web page). She and her team of embroiderers produce many objects both more elaborate and expensive, and smaller and cheaper, but these dresses are quite beautiful and the embroidery, sometimes interspersed with machine embroidery, is exquisite - see the detail of an embroidered black shawl on the right!
Notice the delicate fabric of the cape of the yellow dress - a popular style. When told it was made of camel hair, I found it difficult to believe and had to go back and examine it closely all over again! This fabric is produced in Nadjaf in Iraq!
The shop is large and airy and although there are so many objects on display it does not seem crowded. I can well imagine the temptation to show as much as possible; it has been cleverly resisted!
Wendy works with many of the women's organisations in Jordan, of which there are an increasing number. Most of these organisations produce the same general kind of articles : embroideries of every description, book covers and other objects in leather, soap and candles, scented variously, many kinds of wall hangings and carpets of different sizes. Some of them make glass, and various ceramics, some of them produce jewellery, often with original designs.
These bags come from JREDS in Aqaba. JREDS is an organisation originally dedicated to helping the wives and daughters of fishermen, but which has spread out to include women in Aqaba in general. The scheme is managed by Doris Ghnaim who is strict as to the quality of the production.
Notice the finishing of the interieur of the bags - well worth remembering; by no means all people making bags of this kind are careful about the inside!
These ceramics are made by individuals : the plates on the left and the centre by Ali Fahmawey and George Kebork (a professor in ceramics at the University of Yarmoukh) and the coffee cups are part of Nasreen Darragh's mosaic ceramics.
It is impossible to list all the interesting items in the shop but here are quick photos of a number of other fascinating objects : jewellery, both the classic silver and the modern jewellery of Lana Kawar which is very fashionable in Amman, the decorated ostrich eggs produced by the RSCN, the glass bells and ornaments, perfect for a Christmas tree, from Madaba.
A special word about the soaps on sale here : besides the olive oil soap from the Jordan River Foundation, there are some beatiful soaps in glycerine made by Dina Azar in Amman :
These make splendid presents to take home; they are light, unbreakable, pretty and inexpensive!
This shop/showroom in Petra is down near to the souvenir shops around the entrance to Petra and above the "Petra Kitchen" which is organised by the same management. It's quite easy to miss it, since there is no separate entrance and you have to go in through the "Petra Kitchen" dining room. The stairs are on the right hand side when you go in, and are lined with some of the more spectacular merchandise - mostly Raghad's dresses.
Made in Jordan, like the Petra Kitchen is a daughter company of the Petra Moon Travel Agency, whose office is nearby. Their website is www.petramoon.com, their email firstname.lastname@example.org and their phone number is 03.215.5700.
Index to the Handcrafts Section