Stitching together tradition and tourism
Content submitted by – Lili
Submited Date : 28/06/2018
Stitching of the famous Al-Najafiah men’s cloak

My name is Hamoudi Hassan Al-Abayagi, born in the city of Al-Najaf, and this is my story… I was born in Iraq in 1952. Today, I am a seller and maker of Al- Najafiah cloak. I inherited this craftsmanship from my father, who inherited it from his father, Haj Mahdi Al-Abayagi. Our family was famous for doing this craft in the Al-Najaf province, the oldest place making the men´s cloak in Iraq and the Arab world. Al-Najafiah cloak is considered as the best in quality and folkloric art as this craftsmanship dates back more than 130 years. It is not only famous in the provinces of Iraq, but also expanded to most of the Gulf and Arab countries. Al-Najafiah cloak can be divided into different types according to the seasons. Summer cloak fits the high summer heat and is light, and Spring and Autumn cloaks fit the moderate weather, and the Winter cloak suits cold weather and is heavy. We also make cloaks customized according to the occasion; sad and happy occasions. Our cloaks are woven with silk thread extracted from silkworms, and embroidered with French or Japanese golden threads obtained from Jordan and Syria. The price of cloak rises due to its difficult weaving. Since I was little, I have worked in this craft, which is considered as one of the folkloric traditional crafts that attracts tourists. Today I have achieved my dream. I own a shop for selling folkloric cloaks and I participate annually in Arab and international exhibitions specialized in folklore. I have participated in the Iraqi Heritage Exhibition, held in the annual Baghdad International Fair by a special invitation from the fair administration in the department of Al-Najafiah cloaks. Our cloaks are characterized by their originality and genuineness, and have received many certificates of appreciation. We offer foreigner and Arab visitors of the fair deluxe cloaks as gifts, especially golden ones because it gives golden appearance. We get ready early every season for this event by purchasing wool, threads and other items to be shown in the market which is visited by many customers from all over Iraq and the Arabian Gulf Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The most important visitors of this market are Sheiks of Arabic tribes in villages and countryside because they are more commonly considered as their official costumes. Our cloaks are still, at heart, about this folkloric craftsmanship which is considered as a part of the history of our holy city. Our great wish is to ultimately expand the project of the folkloric cloak, showcasing the legacy of this profession to the entire world.