Embroidery has traditionally played a central role in the life of Palestinians, a craft handed down from mother to daughter for many generations. Because Palestine has been a meeting place of many different cultures through the ages, a rich variety of styles, patterns, and designs with three distinct subgroups emerged: town, village and nomadic.

Because this art was executed on a perishable commodity–textiles used constantly as household articles such as pillows, as well as clothing — not much remains from earlier than the nineteenth century. When the articles were worn out, pieces of the embroidery were cut off and included in other, smaller items. Clothing is influenced by climate, and also by financial and social conditions and the availability of materials. Village women would weave, dye and embroider their own clothes and those of their male relatives.

Since the late nineteen sixties, the craft has been encouraged by Palestinian welfare organizations to provide employment to women in refugee camps, enabling them to help support their families. This movement has resulted in a resurgence in the popularity of Palestinian embroidery, which is now much valued by Palestinians scattered all over the world, in all walks of life, as a treasured symbol of their rich national culture.

Comments are closed.