It is no secret that all Arab countries are true masters of craftsmanship, and Jordan is no exception. In this country, traditional objects of great beauty and value are produced with skill and, above all, with a lot of heart. On this page, we gather the most interesting aspects of its different disciplines, as they are closely related to tourism: we tell you about the most famous specialties, where you can find them, and more.”
Despite the introduction of modern machinery in all sectors of the country’s economy, including product manufacturing, there still exists a vibrant craft tradition in Jordan, carried out by master artisans who work with their own hands, traditional tools, and techniques passed down from generation to generation, lost in time immemorial.
The tourism industry is precisely the best ally for Jordanian craftsmanship: thanks to the millions of travelers that the country receives every year, this livelihood remains sustainable for its humble artisans and even for larger communities, especially in rural areas where cooperatives are often established. Therefore, if you plan to buy a traditional and representative object of the country during your trip, here we show you a selection of them.”
Jordan is a textile powerhouse in the context of the Middle East, and a significant portion of its exports are textile products, as we mentioned on the page dedicated to the economy. However, it is also possible to find small-scale artisanal production, creating diverse and high-quality items. One of the best examples is carpets, whose prestige dates back to the Christian and Byzantine era.
Known as kilims, they are deeply rooted in society for their practical function since time immemorial, whether it is for facilitating prayer or covering the floors of Bedouin tents in the desert, among other examples.
Another textile craft that attains high quality and popularity in Jordan is embroidery. Traditionally done by women, many of them, especially elderly women, still knit daily, particularly traditional costumes and scarves. Among the most famous are the Palestinian cross-stitch embroideries, named after the neighboring territories on the other side of the Jordan River, but are also widely spread on the eastern bank.
This is another great heritage from the Byzantine and Roman periods, as those civilizations frequently used them to decorate temples and other public and private buildings, especially as flooring. The quality is often measured by the size of the tesserae (small stone fragments that form the design) or their density per centimeter: the smaller the tessera, the higher the quality… and the higher the selling price. Sometimes, these items can be heavy and difficult to transport, but many shops offer international shipping via courier. It is especially interesting to witness this art in situ, in one of the mosaic workshops scattered throughout the country.
The predominant jewelry in Jordan is made of silver, which was traditionally crafted by Armenian and Yemeni goldsmiths in the past, and nowadays local artists continue to maintain similar designs and typologies. Some of these jewelry pieces are amulets that are given as gifts on special occasions, such as as part of a dowry from a husband to his wife at a wedding.
Although copper may not seem like a particularly “noble” material, it is widely used in Jordanian craftsmanship. And it is used masterfully. It is no coincidence that some of the world’s oldest mines, such as the one in Feinan, are found here. Copper is mainly used in the production of everyday objects, such as trays or coffee pots. In some cases, these are antiques made several decades ago, which can add a nostalgic and romantic element to the purchase.
If jewelry and metalwork are meant to last a lifetime, Jordanian craftsmanship also includes other products that are much more ephemeral but equally genuine and pleasant. This is the case with handmade soaps, which not only have the charm of being crafted by hand using traditional techniques, but also use a very special raw material: water from the Dead Sea, whose salinity level is extraordinarily high.
Another discipline that could not be missed on this page about Jordanian craftsmanship is ceramics. The most common objects are vessels with rich colors on a white background, used for practical purposes such as plates, cups, or trays. But there are also many other simply decorative pieces, such as tiles, amulets, or display plates.
Of all the crafts in Jordan, this is probably the most surprising one, due to the chosen medium and its decoration. In reality, it was a very popular activity centuries ago, often reproducing mosaic designs, but it declined over time for a simple reason: ostriches became extinct in the country due to poaching. However, thanks to tourism and reintroduction programs of this animal in some suitable natural environments (such as Azraq), there has been a certain recovery of this craftsmanship.
Unlike other countries in North Africa, Jordan does not have as many traditional souks, understood as labyrinthine commercial neighborhoods where all kinds of handmade items are sold. However, there are areas of special commercial interest where you can find good Jordanian craftsmanship, which can be an optimal option for buying a souvenir from your trip. Here are some ideas:
In any case, if you are interested in buying Jordanian crafts and organizing your trip with us, our agency’s staff will be able to guide you to the most appropriate places to do so, based on their craftsmanship, long tradition, or value for money.