It is quite realistic to say that Palestinian's are incredibly loyal to their homeland. Through their emotions and actions, they make it a point to consistently bring awareness to the need for Palestinian liberation and independence. One way hardworking Palestinians do this is by wearing the kufiya - and in the case of providing original and quality made scarves to support the fight for a Free Palestine - this includes the production of kufiya. However, due to both cultural appropriation and unethically organized institutions profiting off of the beautifully stitched symbol of Palestinian resistance, it is quite easy to purchase one of these scarves that are commercialized and “Made in China”. The disappointment of this profit oriented strategy solely lies in the fact that not only will these kufiya potentially be misrepresented by consumers internationally, but also, it fails to support the hardworking Palestinians who invest 12-14 hour days on their feet in real manufacturing sites of the actual kufiya creation. Here are some reasons why you should avoid buying knock-off kufiya's made from China, India etc... and instead, support the effort of authentic Palestinian artists of the Palestinian kufiya.
The kufiya (koofiyeh/كوفية ) - what is it and why is it so commonly worn?
As a representation of much more than Palestinian nationalism and pride, the black and white chequered scarf symbolizes a sense of solidarity and strength for the Palestinian people due to the violence, ethnic cleansing, and day to day oppression by the forces of the state of Israel. In fact, some even mistake the pattern of the scarf to be the alternative flag of Palestine! This belief may be due to the reason that the resilience of the Palestinian people prior to 1948 has been rooted in the hearts of Palestinians worldwide, as many choose to wear the Kufiya during protests and demonstrations. For millions of Palestinian immigrants, many who were exiled from their homes by Jewish settlers, the lightweight scarf captures a deeper connection to their cultural roots and to their home; reminding them that although they were forced to leave Palestine, Palestine did not leave them.
Unsustainable Kufiya's in China & India
The Kufiya surely made quite the statement as it made its way onto newspapers, magazines, and Tv globally as it quickly became the national trademark of Palestine in the late 1900’s. Hirbawi is the original and authentic creator of the kufiya. The Hirbawi factory quickly took off as the company started manufacturing about 150,000 kufiya’s annually as early as the 1980’s. Not only did Hirbawi offer the traditional black and white design, but they were also able to provide their consumers with over 250 colors to choose from in hopes of further encourage people to express their solidarity with Palestine. Popularity knew the kufiya early on as it was a statement piece that resonated in the hearts of many due to its everlasting profound meaning. It is important to recognize that although hirbawi is and has been the authentic manufacture, many companies saw the profit margin Hirbawi was in and wanted to use this to their own economic advantage, even if it meant hindering the value and quality of the kufiya. Chinese and Indian manufactures exploit and sell what they call a kufiya but is what we like to call an mere imposter. Hirbawi soon saw a decline in their sales as these inauthentic and poorly made kufiyas were circulating and dominating the market. Remember those 150,000 kufiya sales annually we talked about prior? Well, as a result of the exploitation of kufiyas made by Chinese and Indian manufacturers, Hirbawi had to reduce manufacturing expenses as a result of only 10,000 annual sales. It is so important to stress to anyone and everyone the weight that it is to purchase kufiyas from Hirbawi and to keep supporting their efforts and high-quality work. There are many sources that sell Hirbawi as an outlet for the company to have a better reach to a more economically conscious audience.
The reality behind Kufiya's ‘Made in China’ or 'Made in India' is that they are all synonymous with being characterized as cheap quality and low cost. Lots of products shipped by China and India through sites like Amazon, or third parties in general, are all being produced at a rapid rate and are not guaranteed to be accurate 100% of the time. The stitching of the kufiya is highly articulate and differential throughout its entirety and companies in China and India- who have no personal connection or access to Palestinian goods - do not pay any mind to perfecting or embracing such a meaningful piece. However, PaliRoots has exclusively developed partnership and deep rooted friendship with the last standing Kufiya manufacturing factory in Al-Khalil, Palestine - and we intend on doing the Kufiya justice.
Quality is equal to Quantity
Despite the progression of the invasion of Israel in the 1950’s, Yasser Hirbawi established the Hirbawi Textiles factory (in 1961) producing the same Kufiya today that you see here on the PaliRoots site. The variety of kufiyas made by the Hirbawi Factory have increased to meet the demands of consumer preferences, including beautiful shades of greens, lavender, teal, rainbow, and more (Daily Sabah). The factory has also matched the demands of international interest in kufiyas, and now can deliver to any front door worldwide (Hirbawi). The rise of cheap labour by fast fashion marketing is in no way shape or form fair or just - and we don't want YOU to be a contributor to that. While scrolling through the PaliRoots site and discovering the versatility of the kufiya, whether it be on your sleeve, around your neck or on your head, you can also have confidence that PaliRoots products are 100% authentic and ethically made, thanks to the Hirbawi artisanship.
Nevertheless, you should purchase from real artists and sellers of the kufiya to be part of political and cultural allyship. The political and cultural sensitivity to the kufiya should be respected - NOT appropriated. It is an utter detriment to see the foundational meaning and purpose of the kufiya being slandered and belittled in the name of fashion. The respect is due not simply to the valuable land, but to the lives lost and lives displaced by the Israeli occupation. Al-Kufiya is a scarf of many meanings which pay homage to all the terror that Palestine has been through, yet portrays as a humble and peaceful memory of Palestine’s significance before and after 1948. So from one minority to another, please put respect on our representation of hardship.