Women’s Coats

Women’s garments expressed whether a woman was a bedouin, villager, or townswoman depending on the style and color of her garment.

In the Galilee and Nablus area the dura’ah or jillayeh were short-sleeved coats made from locally-woven cotton, mostly indigo blue in color, sometimes a rusty red or light brown, and sometimes a combination of the two in the first half of the 20th century. In the second half, the short-sleeved coats were replaced by the qumbaz with long, tight-fitting sleeves, a scooped neckline, and long side openings; the three flaps were usually hitched up through a girdle.

The back and sides of blue Galilee coats are often richly embroidered in mainly red silks, in predominantly geometric designs: squares, diamonds, triangles, and chevrons. A variety of stitches- running stitch, cross stitch, satin stitch,hem stitch, and drawn thread work are used in Galilee embroidery, often on the same garment.

Women’s Dresses

Galilee Bedouin

The dresses worn by the nomadic and semi-nomadic groups of Galilee were, and remain, quite different in style, material and embroidery to the garments of the Galilee villagers. They have long tight sleevs and a long neck opening. They were made of light blue cotton in the early 20th century then black cotton and black velvet later on.

Dresses have either simple decorative cotton stitching along the seams, in lines above the hem, around the neck opening and on the sleeves; or they are more richly decorated with four or five horizontal bands of emobroidery above the hem.

Southern Palestinian villagers

Women did not wear coats south of the Nablus region, but in some areas a kind of hybrid garment, best described as a coat dress, was worn, similar in cut to the Galilee dura’ah or jillayeh. It has short sleeves, and an opening in the front of the skirt extending from below the waist to the hem, where it is sometimes permanently fastened.

The most common type of Palestinian dress has a full skirt and extravagant, pointed sleeves.  Necklines and collars distinguished the dresses of certain areas. Most dresses have round necks and chest slits, but south-west coast dresses sometimes have V-necks and some Jaffa area dresses sported closed, scooped necklines.

Since 1948, dresses have become less baggy and are customarily made with tight sleeves.

Lavish embroidery and patchwork in vibrant colors was fundamentally associated with marital status and prime womanhood.

Women’s Headdresses

Headwear usually comprised of a headdress– a tight-fitting cap or bonnet–and, draped or tied over it a scarf or veil, sometimes bound with a headband. Headdresses and veils like other garments, varied regionally, indicated marital status– and displayed wealth, in the case of headdresses and jewellery, with precious metals and actual coins.


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