Al-Habari Silk Printing…A famous traditional craft in Aleppo

Al-Habari silk printing is a kind of traditional folk costume that women wear in several Syrian governorates as a shawl on the shoulders or a head covering.This beautiful cover is worn on many social occasions.

In Aleppo and within his modest workshop in Al-Saliheen neighborhood, artisan Hassan Mohsen prints the silky Habari using simple hand tools.

Mohsen said, “I have been working in this profession for more than 35 years, since I was 12 years old. I loved this profession  which I inherited from my father  and kept working in, as it is a unique craft that is about to disappear and I feel it is my duty to preserve it. This profession has developed a lot recently and it is now being printed using ready-made silk templates.”

 He continued: “The people of Aleppo are uniquely  in printing Habari silk in a distinctive way with nice drawings and bright colors. Silk printing differs from digital or automatic printing of other fabrics due to the soft silk texture and its lightweight, which makes it very difficult for digital machines to deal with it, so it must be printed manually,” he clarified.

Talking about the stages of printing Al-Habari silk, Mohsen explained that the silk threads are initially woven in specialized factories by introducing a gum-like substance that facilitates the weaving process. After that, the silk textiles are placed in boiling water for two hours to get rid of the glue and then washed to remove impurities in preparation for the printing, which is done manually, by adding special dyes and distinctive decorations.

Mohsen pointed out that the printing process is done without overlapping colors by adding special materials. Silk textiles are then dried and evaporated to fix the colors. After that, they are washed with detergents and dried to keep the silk soft, so the silk piece is now ready for sale or export.

Mohsen clarified that his workshop had stopped working during the war, but it has now returned to work as he exports his products to a number of governorates whose residents still love this type of traditional women's fashion, especially in Deir Ez-Zour and Hasaka, where wearing silk haberia indicates the social status and the value of women.

Amal Farhat