The Kufiya Story

Kufiyas/keffiyehs date back 5000 years and have a long and colourful history. Over the centuries they have been worn by Palestinian farmers to protect themselves from the sun, dust and sand.

During the Arab revolt against the British in 1936, Palestinian rebels wore the kufiya to hide their identity to avoid arrest. When the British banned the kufiya all Palestinians started to wear the kufiya to make it harder to identify the rebels.

The traditional black and white design with a fish net pattern is the kufiya most associated with Palestine and its struggle for freedom.

The kufiya’s prominence within the Palestinian struggle increased when Yasser Arafat became the leader of the Palestinian struggle in the 1960s and he hardly ever appeared in public without wearing his Kufiya.  Often he wore the kufiya draped over his right shoulder to resemble the outline of historic Palestine.

In the 1960s there were around 30 kufiya factories in Palestine. Today the  Hirbawi factory/weavery in the city of Hebron is the last of its kind in Palestine. The looms go clackity clack as they weave the cotton thread into a large range of kufiyas in both traditional and modern designs. 

Ways of wearing your kufiya

The kufiya is practical and adaptable – it can protect you from the sun or it can keep you warm. There are many ways to wear your kufiya – here are a few:

Caring for your kufiya

Hirbawi kufiyas are made of good quality cotton and are colour fast so they are easy to care for and can be either hand washed or machine washed in cold or warm water. Each kufiya is 120cm square, and the traditional versions are made in a slightly heavier weave.