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Is Macrame Cultural Appropriation?

Want to buy macrame décor for your home? Or, perhaps you have seen macrame clothes or jewelry and would like to wear them. However, is this considered cultural appropriation?

Well, here is a breakdown of macrame and whether or not using it is considered a form of cultural appropriation:

Is Macrame a Form of Cultural Appropriation?

Macrame is originally from Arab countries, eventually passing onto other nations via travelers and traders – despite this, macrame doesn’t have cultural ties to a specific country or group and, as such, macrame isn’t seen as a form of cultural appropriation.

Why is Macrame Not a Form of Cultural Appropriation?

Well, to understand this, you have to understand the history of macrame.

Historians believe that macrame got its beginnings from thirteenth century Arab weavers. The weavers used this technique with excess fabric on their hand loomed products. The thread and the yarn along the edges were tied off into fringes.

The girl's hand at macrame weaving work

In fact, the macrame is a Spanish inspired word. It is believed to be derived from the Arabic word migramah which means embroidered veil or ornamental fringe.

After the Moorish conquest, this art form was taken to Spain before moving onto Italy. After this, it began to spread throughout Europe. It was introduced to Queen Mary II in the late seventeenth century.

However, macrame began to really spread across the globe thanks to sailors. It was they who created macrame objects while at sea. They then sold or traded these things away once they reached land.

Interestingly enough, the sailors also traded and bartered knots for producing macrame around the world as well. They had the stronghold of secret knots. It was only once these knots and their associated designs became published in books and magazines did the designs become available to every household.

Therefore, the main reason that macrame is not considered a form of cultural appropriation is because while it got its beginnings in the Arab world it has been used in other countries for a very long time.

As such, it has been a part of so many cultures for so long that it isn’t really claimed by one in particular.

Can Macrame Ever Be Considered a Form of Cultural Appropriation?

Well, this does depend on how it is used. For instance, if you use macrame for hanging pots or simple as a random form of decoration, then it shouldn’t be an issue.

The same can be said if you have the odd rug or other embellishment in your home.

That being said, you do need to be aware of what kind of décor theme or vibe you are trying to create with your home.

Now, macrame has been used in seaside homes for quite a while to give a nautical effect. This isn’t a form of cultural appropriation as it has to do with the ocean.

On the other hand, there are those that use macrame to create a bohemian vibe in their home. They may also use patterns that are associated with certain cultures, including Native American.

In this instance, macrame can be considered a form of cultural appropriation or cultural insensitivity.

Most people will adopt boho themes in their home or in their fashion and jewelry without fully appreciating where these styles have come from.

The bohemian trend as a whole tends to heavily borrow from marginalized cultures. However, you will almost always find these items from large commercial companies who mark up prices without contributing any of the profits to the communities that they have profited from.

If used like this, then macrame can be considered largely problematic.

How to Avoid Cultural Insensitivity with Macrame?

The first thing to do is to avoid purchasing macrame from big corporations. Instead, look for local hand looms, particularly those who belong to marginalized or indigenous communities.

Weaving macrame at home.

For one thing, you can guarantee that your money is going to communities that need and deserve these funds. This reduces the risk of exploitation.

The other benefit is that you also get access to beautiful, authentic pieces that are often a great deal more customized than anything you can find in a mainstream store or website.

You will also give yourself the opportunity to learn a bit more about macrame, its roots, and how it continues to be utilized in smaller communities across the world. In turn, this will end up being a far better way for you to decorate your home or your body.

Can You Employ Macrame in Your Home and Wardrobe?

Yes, you absolutely can. Just make sure to consider the items that you are buying. Where did they come from and what was the inspiration for the design.

Be mindful of your own heritage, particularly if you come from a group that has marginalized other races, ethnicities, or cultures. In this instance, there are limits to the styles that you can wear and the items that you can use to decorate your home.

As long as your macrame items or clothes don’t infringe on somebody else’s culture or beliefs, you should be fine in utilizing it. It can be used in your home and worn as fashion.

Is Macrame Considered Cultural Appropriation?

Macrame is an art form that began in the Arab world but quickly spread to other countries, including Europe – it has been a part of European cultures for many centuries and, as such, isn’t considered a form of cultural appropriation – you should be mindful of how you use it, nonetheless.