Palestinian embroidery: Cultural heritage in transformation

Published March 24th, 2017 - 13:24 GMT

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Passed down from generation to generation, embroidery has become a major symbol of Palestinian identity. Originally a cultural expression of rural women, its patterns, fabrics, motifs and colors indicated a women’s place of origin as well as her social and marital status.

Following the “Nakba” of 1948 and the 1967 war, this village craft, in Arabic referred to as “Al Tatreez,” has become a national symbol among the Palestinian diaspora. At the same time, its survival has been threatened by societal changes following the wars.

However, small initiatives have started revitalizing the traditional craft, providing an income-generating source for Palestinian women and introducing Palestinian embroidery to the modern world of fashion.

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One of Palestine fashion designer Omar Joseph’s garments on the exhibition at Mosaic Rooms. “What I want is to push the underlying concepts of Palestinian garments in novel and perhaps extreme directions, while maintaining their unique elements and visual identity,” says Joseph. (Tarek Moukaddem)
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Image 1 of 9:  1 / 9One of Palestine fashion designer Omar Joseph’s garments on the exhibition at Mosaic Rooms. “What I want is to push the underlying concepts of Palestinian garments in novel and perhaps extreme directions, while maintaining their unique elements and visual identity,” says Joseph. (Tarek Moukaddem)

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More than just pretty designs, Palestinian embroidery patterns carry deeper meanings, for example: Moon of Bethlehem (A1), Damask Rose (A5), Serpent (A11), Cauliflower (B1), Pigeon (B7), and Rainbow (B9) (Palestinian Embroider). (Palestinianembroider.tripod)
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Image 2 of 9:  2 / 9More than just pretty designs, Palestinian embroidery patterns carry deeper meanings, for example: Moon of Bethlehem (A1), Damask Rose (A5), Serpent (A11), Cauliflower (B1), Pigeon (B7), and Rainbow (B9) (Palestinian Embroider). (Palestinianembroider.tripod)

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A collection by the brand Mochi showcases traditional methods of embroidery on chic dresses and jackets. Mochi was founded by Palestinian designer Ayah Tabari who works closely with local communities “to design a collection that truly and authentically represents its origins.” (All Things Mochi)
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Image 3 of 9:  3 / 9A collection by the brand Mochi showcases traditional methods of embroidery on chic dresses and jackets. Mochi was founded by Palestinian designer Ayah Tabari who works closely with local communities “to design a collection that truly and authentically represents its origins.” (All Things Mochi)

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Ramallah, 1939-45. Traditionally, women used to gather to work on their embroidery projects, an occasion during which stories were not only told but became woven into the women’s embroideries. (Palestyle)
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Image 4 of 9:  4 / 9Ramallah, 1939-45. Traditionally, women used to gather to work on their embroidery projects, an occasion during which stories were not only told but became woven into the women’s embroideries. (Palestyle)

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This 48-year-old Palestinian woman supports her family through home-based embroidery business while keeping the tradition alive. 'By doing this work, which is part of our Palestinian heritage, I feel that women can renew our heritage and save it from extinction.' (AFP)
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Image 5 of 9:  5 / 9This 48-year-old Palestinian woman supports her family through home-based embroidery business while keeping the tradition alive. "By doing this work, which is part of our Palestinian heritage, I feel that women can renew our heritage and save it from extinction." (AFP)

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Social enterprise Teita Leila features embroidery handmade by women living in the West Bank. “We tell hidden and secret stories in the language of thread, reinterpreting embroidery in a way that would make your grandmother proud.“
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Image 6 of 9:  6 / 9Social enterprise Teita Leila features embroidery handmade by women living in the West Bank. “We tell hidden and secret stories in the language of thread, reinterpreting embroidery in a way that would make your grandmother proud.“

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Beyond modern fashion designers, traditional embroidery still holds sway among elderly Palestinian grandmas and aunties. Here, two women wearing traditional dress help harvest hummus (chickpeas or garbanzo beans) at their home in Bethlehem. (Shutterstock/Ryan Rodrick Beiler)
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Image 7 of 9:  7 / 9Beyond modern fashion designers, traditional embroidery still holds sway among elderly Palestinian grandmas and aunties. Here, two women wearing traditional dress help harvest hummus (chickpeas or garbanzo beans) at their home in Bethlehem. (Shutterstock/Ryan Rodrick Beiler)

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Palestinian embroidery can be found across the region and practicing handcrafts has become a way for women to achieve financial independence. SEP, a Jordan based social enterprise, sells hand-made fashion accessories made by Palestine refugee women from Jerash “Gaza” camp. (SEP)
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Image 8 of 9:  8 / 9Palestinian embroidery can be found across the region and practicing handcrafts has become a way for women to achieve financial independence. SEP, a Jordan based social enterprise, sells hand-made fashion accessories made by Palestine refugee women from Jerash “Gaza” camp. (SEP)

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A Palestinian girl wears a traditional embroidered gown and headdress on the book cover of “Art Of Palestinian Embroidery“ by Laila El-Khalidi. (Laila El-Khalid, Saqi Books)
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Image 9 of 9:  9 / 9A Palestinian girl wears a traditional embroidered gown and headdress on the book cover of “Art Of Palestinian Embroidery“ by Laila El-Khalidi. (Laila El-Khalid, Saqi Books)

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One of Palestine fashion designer Omar Joseph’s garments on the exhibition at Mosaic Rooms. “What I want is to push the underlying concepts of Palestinian garments in novel and perhaps extreme directions, while maintaining their unique elements and visual identity,” says Joseph. (Tarek Moukaddem)

Image 1 of 9One of Palestine fashion designer Omar Joseph’s garments on the exhibition at Mosaic Rooms. “What I want is to push the underlying concepts of Palestinian garments in novel and perhaps extreme directions, while maintaining their unique elements and visual identity,” says Joseph. (Tarek Moukaddem)

2

More than just pretty designs, Palestinian embroidery patterns carry deeper meanings, for example: Moon of Bethlehem (A1), Damask Rose (A5), Serpent (A11), Cauliflower (B1), Pigeon (B7), and Rainbow (B9) (Palestinian Embroider). (Palestinianembroider.tripod)

Image 2 of 9More than just pretty designs, Palestinian embroidery patterns carry deeper meanings, for example: Moon of Bethlehem (A1), Damask Rose (A5), Serpent (A11), Cauliflower (B1), Pigeon (B7), and Rainbow (B9) (Palestinian Embroider). (Palestinianembroider.tripod)

3

A collection by the brand Mochi showcases traditional methods of embroidery on chic dresses and jackets. Mochi was founded by Palestinian designer Ayah Tabari who works closely with local communities “to design a collection that truly and authentically represents its origins.” (All Things Mochi)

Image 3 of 9A collection by the brand Mochi showcases traditional methods of embroidery on chic dresses and jackets. Mochi was founded by Palestinian designer Ayah Tabari who works closely with local communities “to design a collection that truly and authentically represents its origins.” (All Things Mochi)

4

Ramallah, 1939-45. Traditionally, women used to gather to work on their embroidery projects, an occasion during which stories were not only told but became woven into the women’s embroideries. (Palestyle)

Image 4 of 9Ramallah, 1939-45. Traditionally, women used to gather to work on their embroidery projects, an occasion during which stories were not only told but became woven into the women’s embroideries. (Palestyle)

5

This 48-year-old Palestinian woman supports her family through home-based embroidery business while keeping the tradition alive. 'By doing this work, which is part of our Palestinian heritage, I feel that women can renew our heritage and save it from extinction.' (AFP)

Image 5 of 9This 48-year-old Palestinian woman supports her family through home-based embroidery business while keeping the tradition alive. "By doing this work, which is part of our Palestinian heritage, I feel that women can renew our heritage and save it from extinction." (AFP)

6

Social enterprise Teita Leila features embroidery handmade by women living in the West Bank. “We tell hidden and secret stories in the language of thread, reinterpreting embroidery in a way that would make your grandmother proud.“

Image 6 of 9Social enterprise Teita Leila features embroidery handmade by women living in the West Bank. “We tell hidden and secret stories in the language of thread, reinterpreting embroidery in a way that would make your grandmother proud.“

7

Beyond modern fashion designers, traditional embroidery still holds sway among elderly Palestinian grandmas and aunties. Here, two women wearing traditional dress help harvest hummus (chickpeas or garbanzo beans) at their home in Bethlehem. (Shutterstock/Ryan Rodrick Beiler)

Image 7 of 9Beyond modern fashion designers, traditional embroidery still holds sway among elderly Palestinian grandmas and aunties. Here, two women wearing traditional dress help harvest hummus (chickpeas or garbanzo beans) at their home in Bethlehem. (Shutterstock/Ryan Rodrick Beiler)

8

Palestinian embroidery can be found across the region and practicing handcrafts has become a way for women to achieve financial independence. SEP, a Jordan based social enterprise, sells hand-made fashion accessories made by Palestine refugee women from Jerash “Gaza” camp. (SEP)

Image 8 of 9Palestinian embroidery can be found across the region and practicing handcrafts has become a way for women to achieve financial independence. SEP, a Jordan based social enterprise, sells hand-made fashion accessories made by Palestine refugee women from Jerash “Gaza” camp. (SEP)

9

A Palestinian girl wears a traditional embroidered gown and headdress on the book cover of “Art Of Palestinian Embroidery“ by Laila El-Khalidi. (Laila El-Khalid, Saqi Books)

Image 9 of 9A Palestinian girl wears a traditional embroidered gown and headdress on the book cover of “Art Of Palestinian Embroidery“ by Laila El-Khalidi. (Laila El-Khalid, Saqi Books)

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