Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts


Dean's Office Qatar

First Advisor

Basma Hamdy

Second Advisor

Sadia Mir

Third Advisor

Jesse Ulmer


The recent and ongoing genocidal war in Tigray, Ethiopia, has witnessed the destruction and looting of countless historical religious sites, ancient manuscripts, and artifacts, leaving Tigray’s remaining cultural heritage extremely vulnerable. Such cultural loss erases a shared understanding across generations, robbing them of their history and identity. My work contributes to the safeguarding of Tigray’s cultural heritage and collective memory, informed by literature on cultural preservation efforts in post-war societies, and a series of interviews with Tigrayans in the diaspora and in Ethiopia.

The outcome of this thesis is embodied in a series of distinct jebenas, traditional Tigrayan clay coffee pots, featuring near-field communication (NFC) technology—the same technology that enables wireless card payments. The NFC chip in the jebenas links to an online Tigrayan archive, created within the format of an interactive garden. Each coffee pot is also entirely functional, and can withstand high amounts of heat and water.

Coffee is ceremonious in the Tigrayan household, representing a time of togetherness and intergenerational cultural exchange. Each unique jebena’s form represents a different time, place, or piece of history, directing viewers to its specific story in the garden via the NFC interface. Frewayni’s Garden is inspired by the community gardens Tigrayan refugees have created in Sudan since being displaced by the war, poetically symbolizing new life, beauty, and healing after pain. In this way, I illustrate how cultural heritage can be preserved, and passed down using the latest technology within traditional Tigrayan objects.


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