Embroidery as a Source of Palestinian Identity

Among the turmoil and tragedy of current Palestinian existence, the fantastic thing about Palestinian embroidery is sort of a ray of light that brings a smile to most people’s faces. Whether or not one resides in Palestine or wherever else across the globe, it’s a supply of nice pleasure and joy that one incorporates into one’s life, whether as pillows and wall hangings to decorate a home, a traditional dress to wear at special parties, an elegant night jacket, or a worthless gift to offer a friend. As old workshops and younger designers find new ways to introduce Palestinian embroidery into elegant trendy wear, the survival of this precious heritage is perpetuated and strengthened.

Though some individual features of Palestinian costume and embroidery are shared with points of textile arts of neighboring Arab nations, the Palestinian style has its particular uniqueness that is easily acknowledged by textile artwork enthusiasts everywhere in the world. Most books on worldwide embroidery current Palestinian traditional costume and embroidery as the prime instance of Center Jap embroidery, affirming its worldwide fame.

How did this art form develop? Really, a research of the development of the traditional Palestinian costume via the ages proves that this traditional costume accommodates historical data that paperwork centuries of textile-artwork development within the region, an art type that has one way or the other amazingly survived to this day. Whether one research the traditional traditional simple minimize of the thobe, the history of the headdresses and accessories, the wonderful number of kinds of embroidery, the types of stitches, or the ancient origins of its patterns and motifs, one is deeply impressed with the historical richness of this legacy that dates back hundreds of years, and which affirms the antiquity of Palestinian existence and roots, and the survival of its historical heritage.

The fantastic thing about the Palestinian costume style had its influence on Europeans starting from at the least the tenth to twelfth centuries AD, during the Crusades. Arab styles had been copied in Europe, as documented by a number of European historians. The strong trade between the Arab world and Europe throughout the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries AD, during the European Renaissance, was another instance of the spread of Arab textiles and embroidery to Europe. This resulted in Arab embroidery patterns being copied into European sample books starting in 1523 in Germany, utilizing the newly discovered printing press, and spreading quickly by translated variations to Italy, France, and England. Ranging from the eighteenth century, Europeans touring the Center East described the beauty of Palestinian costume and embroidery, and took embroideries back residence as souvenirs, considering them spiritual artifacts from the Holy Land. In his book History of Folk Cross Stitch (1964), the historian Heinz Kiewe presents a chapter on “Historic cross stitch symbols from the Holy Land,” in which he confirms his “perception in the widespread, Palestinian supply of those designs” utilized in European people embroideries, because the patterns used in Palestinian products traditional dresses were considered of religious significance and copied into European folk embroidery over the last several centuries for that reason. He mentions, for instance, basic Palestinian patterns such because the eight-pointed star and reesh(feathers), whose acquired European names became Holy Star of Bethlehem and Holy Keys of Jerusalem. Kiewe also mentions the switch of Palestinian embroidery patterns to Europe by St. Francis of Assisi and their use in church embroideries, which had been recopied within the nineteenth century by the embroidery workshops of Assisi, whose embroidery style became well-known throughout Europe. Within the early-nineteenth century, a number of European missionary groups collected Palestinian costumes and embroideries for show in Europe, usually for church exhibits. These collections finally discovered their method into vital European museums and characterize some of the oldest extant items of Palestinian embroidery.