The Hirbawi factory and its artisans have woven the authentic Kufiya since 1961. We promote local and ethical Palestinian trade in a step towards the self-determination and liberation of our People.
The symbolic “Kufiya” (aka “Shemagh” / “Keffiyeh”) garment is more important today than ever. Traditionally worn over the head or shoulders by farmers, the last century has seen a revival of the Kufiya as it became synonymous with the quest for Palestinian freedom and independence.
Adopted by freedom fighters in the 1930’s Arab Revolt, this traditional arabic scarf or headress became the uniform Palestinian rebels, in their resistance against the occupation of the British Empire. Not long after, in continued solidarity with Palestinian heritage and independence from Israeli occupation, the Kufiya ascended into a powerful symbol of Palestinian struggle and freedom.
Today the Palestinian Kufiya, famous for its black & white pattern, is worn across the world by those standing in solidarity with Palestine – in the US, Europe, Malaysia, Indonesia, and of course the Middle East. It has become a meaningful fashion item worn by political activists, musicians, artists, and designers around the world.
From the era of the British Empire to the Israeli occupation, the Kufiya has remained a symbol of resistance and sovereignty for the Palestinian people.
Unfortunately due to increase in overseas low-cost manufacture, most Kufiyas seen today can no longer hold ties to the land it represents. Following the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords and the adoption of a free-market policy, the import of low-cost kufiyas produced overseas began to flood the markets worldwide. The growing competitive pressure of mass-produced alternatives began to hurt local Palestinian weavers.
And more so, with the Israeli occupation, Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks have created further hindrances to the production and trade of Palestinian small businesses. Production and trade from Palestinian small business is dwindling, and the Palestinian economy has been steadily starved.
Keeping tradition alive, the Hirbawi Kufiya is now the only kufiya still being actively produced in Palestine. Yasser Hirbawi opened his historic factory in 1961.
Each Kufiya headdress is handmade using a specific cross-stitching technique developed over decades. Only a handful of people still know these time-honoured techniques that are honed over many generations.
The kufiya is traditionally woven on two layers, the “base”, and the “pattern” or “flower” ( وردة) in Arabic. The looms must be monitored constantly. The threads between the patterns are cut manually while the machine is running. After the roll of Kufiyas is woven by our machines, they are sewn into individual Kufiyas and the iconic tassels are added.
Although Hirbawi founder Yasser Hirbawi passed away in 2018, his three sons carry on the determination, passion, and commitment their father instilled in them, the business, and Palestinian supporters worldwide. The Hirbawi factory is one of many Palestinian Businesses committed in the struggle to build better lives, and preserve the soul of their ancestors.
To the world the kufiya will forever be a symbol of liberty. Those who wear it express their desire to see all people, across the world, live peacefully and with self-determination.
The Hirbawi Factory continues its struggle to keep the factory going. In the words of Yasser Hirbawi, “We will continue. This is the fruit of 50 years of continuous work – it’s more than a business. We will remain competitive by continuing to produce the best quality Kufiya”.
One factory remaining amidst a strangled Palestinian economy, the Hirbawi Factory had its share of troubles. Production of the factory fell from 150,000 units per year in 1993 to a mere 10,000 units in 2010.
At the brink of collapse, the revival of the Hirbawi Factory became possible through a transition away from local sales in the Middle East, towards appealing to the rising giant of social media, and a growing online community.
The Hirbawi Factory and its partners at Made In Palestine, a German organisation founded by Palestinians, established kufiya.org, a website that would be the primary means of the Hirbawi Factory selling its product online.
After supporters of the Palestinian-made Hirbawi Kufiya brought the factory light, the international community responded. And the mission of the Hirbawi Family to preserve the Palestinian Kufiya was restored.
The Kufiya today is more than just a symbol of Palestinian heritage. Wearing the Kufiya has become an expression of resistance and rebellion against injustices of all kinds. A way to express solidarity with all those whose rights are stolen and whose voices are silenced. A colourful piece of fabric that speaks a thousand words.
To Palestinians in particular, the kufiya can be said to mean two things. Palestine will live on. Palestine will be free.
“...what can we do? It’s our work and our life, and, IF God willS IT, we will never stop producing original kufiyas made in Palestine.”