Several museums in Kuwait showcase the country’s history, its art, artefacts, archaeological findings and even information on the Gulf War. However, there is one exceptional museum that stands out for its depiction of the exquisiteness and custom encompassed in Bedouin crafts, namely Sadu weaving. The Sadu House is a beautiful, traditional Kuwaiti styled house where visitors can discover the Bedouin art of weaving, its styles and history. Located right next to the National Museum of Kuwait on the Gulf Road, Bait Al Sadu (Sadu House) was formerly an old Kuwaiti house that’s been converted into a cultural centre.
Sadu House, Kuwait
The Bedouin used the term 'Al Sadu' to refer the traditional weaving process. Visitors can walk around the exhibition rooms and learn about the history of weaving and see traditional looms, the delicate metal work and embroidery which were used to embellish outfits. The gift store also exhibits traditional weavings by local artists. There are bags, rugs/ wall hangings, wallets and home furnishing items to buy and the proceeds all go to the local artisans and weavers.
With the customary Kuwaiti architectural style of the construction, the initiative this centre is endorsing becomes twice as strong; protect the Kuwaiti culture. The centre encourage people to take a closer look at the beautiful nature of the traditional textile arts (Sadu) and also learn how to create the magnificent pieces with patterns and designs messaging the nomadic lifestyle, the emphasis of aesthetic symmetry , balance and the desert environment. Established in 1978, the Sadu House was a private venture created by a group of Kuwaitis who were concerned to protect the interest of Bedouins and the Sadu weaving.
How to get there?
Sadu House is located directly opposite the National Museum of Kuwait on Arabian Gulf Street, north of the Grand Mosque. Just adjacent to the museum, there is a car park and it is a good idea to check opening times and view the two together as they are so close.
The traditional Bedouin form of art that was passed down through generations started to lose its flare during modern times, in the first half of 20th century. Sadu House was set up in 1978 by several Kuwaitis headed by Sheikha Altaf Salem Al-Ali Al-Sabah, who were concerned to care for the interest of Bedouins and their ethnic handicrafts. She lobbied so firmly and succeeded in getting the permission to use Al Marzouk-Behbehani house for the Al Sadu Project. In 1991, after the gulf war it turned into the Co-operative Society called as the Al Sadu Weaving society to preserve and document aspects of the traditional arts and crafts of Kuwait.
There are different rooms dedicated to different purposes and the most surprising would be the courtyard where lectures, seminars and presentations are held. The significance of Al Sadu weaving as an ornamental craft is not only to its significance as material culture but also due to its functionality, which served the daily needs of the customary Bedouin nomadic lifestyle. Al Sadu fabrics can be associated and feature in many different aspects of Bedouin social life and are testimony to the weavers practical accomplishment, their aesthetic values and manual dexterity.
Inside Sadu House
Sadu House aims to teach those interested in the beauty of the Kuwaiti culture and hope to continue to safeguard it in the future. After showing the visitors a movie about the history of the textile arts, the first thing they do here is to show the visitors that the Bedouin tribes used in the desert setting, such as the process of fleece spinning, dying and weaving as well as the urban-style weaving of the bisht or man’s outfit and the delicate embroidery and metal work that were used to embellish men’s clothing. Visitors are also taught about how to weave a centrepiece or carpet. They gain a sense of enlightenment from involving in such a cultural experience although it takes patience and time.
Sadu House Gift Shop
There is a library located on the premises that contains books on the history and stories of how the art started along with the techniques of weaving. Although the Sadu House is open to the public, visitors will be more contented if they became a member so they can take part in all the workshops and classes that take place there.
Inside the souvenir shop are practical pieces that have the beautiful patterns of the Sadu tradition created by the professional craftswomen and master weavers are displayed in the shop. The gift shop also showcase Handbags, scarves, wallets, rugs and table runners, just to name a few.
The Al-Sadu Society was created with an intention of retaining these Bedouin crafts from total extinction and now it has registered over 300 Bedouin women, producing about 70 items each week. The Sadu House is one of the major tourist attractions in Kuwait city, with several chambers, decorated with construction materials and pottery, depicting the old houses, mosques, bread and water storage places etc., in Kuwait. Al Baraha, a roofed playground meant for children is available inside Sadu House. The Abu Adhan Café, decorated with wooden benches and Bedouin sadu patterns is a good place for relaxation.
Things to remember
When visiting Sadu House, guests will walk through the house looking at different types of weaved items, all with comprehensive explanation. They don’t have to look for guides.
Guests can also watch a rather interesting documentary about the different techniques and the history of the Bedouin tribes and the role of weaving they had in their everyday lives.
Sadu House is next to the National Museum, so it is a good idea to combine visits to those two attractions.
Prices in the gift shop vary (based on the quality of the work) between approx 15 and 250 KD.
The Sadu House
Arabian Gulf Street Qibla
Tel: +965 2243 2395
Saturday to Thursday - 8am to 1pm and 4pm to 8pm
KD2 per person