Embroidery as a Source of Palestinian Identity

Among the turmoil and tragedy of present Palestinian existence, the great thing about Palestinian embroidery is sort of a ray of light that brings a smile to most individuals’s faces. Whether or not one resides in Palestine or wherever else across the globe, it’s a supply of great pride 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 particular events, an elegant evening jacket, or a valueless reward to present a friend. As old workshops and young designers discover new methods to introduce Palestinian embroidery into elegant fashionable wear, the survival of this valuable heritage is perpetuated and strengthened.

Though some individual features of Palestinian costume and embroidery are shared with features of textile arts of neighboring Arab nations, the Palestinian fashion has its particular uniqueness that’s easily recognized by textile art enthusiasts all around the world. Most books on worldwide embroidery present Palestinian traditional costume and embroidery because the prime instance of Middle Eastern embroidery, affirming its worldwide fame.

How did this art type develop? Really, a study of the development of the traditional Palestinian costume by way of the ages proves that this traditional costume comprises historical knowledge that paperwork centuries of textile-art growth within the area, an art type that has by some means amazingly survived to this day. Whether one studies the traditional traditional simple minimize of the thobe, the history of the headdresses and equipment, the amazing number of styles 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 1000’s of years, and which affirms the antiquity of Palestinian existence and roots, and the survival of its ancient heritage.

The beauty of the Palestinian costume model had its influence on Europeans starting from at the very least the tenth to twelfth centuries AD, during the Crusades. Arab styles were copied in Europe, as documented by a number of European historians. The sturdy trade between the Arab world and Europe throughout the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries AD, through the European Renaissance, was one other instance of the spread of Arab textiles and embroidery to Europe. This resulted in Arab embroidery patterns being copied into European pattern books beginning in 1523 in Germany, utilizing the newly discovered printing press, and spreading rapidly by translated versions to Italy, France, and England. Starting from the eighteenth century, Europeans touring the Middle East described the great thing about Palestinian costume and embroidery, and took embroideries back house as souvenirs, considering them non secular artifacts from the Holy Land. In his book History of People Cross Sew (1964), the historian Heinz Kiewe presents a chapter on “Historic cross stitch symbols from the Holy Land,” in which he confirms his “perception within the frequent, Palestinian supply of these designs” used in European folk embroideries, because the patterns used in Palestinian traditional dresses had been considered of non secular significance and copied into European folks embroidery over the past a number of centuries for that reason. He mentions, for instance, basic Palestinian patterns such as the eight-pointed star and reesh(feathers), whose acquired European names became Holy Star of Bethlehem and Holy Keys of Jerusalem. Kiewe additionally mentions the transfer of Palestinian embroidery patterns to Europe by St. Francis of Assisi and their use in church embroideries, which were recopied in the nineteenth century by the embroidery workshops of Assisi, whose embroidery style became famous all through Europe. In the early-nineteenth century, a number of European missionary teams collected Palestinian costumes and embroideries for show in Europe, usually for church exhibits. These collections ultimately found their way into important European museums and signify a few of the oldest extant items of Palestinian embroidery.

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