A Symbol of Solidarity
Traditionally worn by Palestinian farmers during the Ottoman rule, the kufiya was originally used in a practical sense- to protect oneself from the elements and harsh climate. Unlike the Ottoman tarboosh which was worn by the ‘urban’ class, the kufiya signified rural life.
During the Arab Revolt (the uprising against the British administration of the Palestinian mandate) between 1936-1939, the black and white kufiya became a symbol of Palestinian nationalism as it was worn by Palestinian men of any rank and for this reason, it was eventually banned by the British. However in 1938, the leadership of the revolt ordered that the urban class replace their traditional tarboosh with the kufiya, in a move to encourage unity and solidarity and to make it difficult to identify the rebels, helping them blend in when they entered into certain cities.
In the 1960s, with the beginning of the Palestinian resistance movement, the kufiya was adopted by the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat. This would later become an identifying feature of Arafat, who would rarely be seen without it. He would wrap it around his head via an agal and drape the scarf over his right shoulder, arranging it in the shape of a triangle; his intention was to delineate the shape of the territory claimed by Palestine. Such a statement was never imitated by other Palestinian leaders.
A Testament to Freedom
Today, the original black and white kufiya is both a symbol of resistance against a brutal occupation, as well a testimony to the human right to self-determination and freedom:
The fishnet pattern is suggestive of the the livelihood of the Palestinian people, the lines that intersect the fishnet are symbolic of the various trade routes that pass through Palestine and finally, the olive leaves symbolize the strength of a culture, the perseverance of the people and their inherent connection to their homeland.
Since 2010, we have worked with the Hirbawi Factory, to design and produce various color combinations of Kufiyas, each with their own story and identity. This has dramatically helped the factory and business as we continue to expand towards, reach, and connect with the world.