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The art of embroidery in Palestine: practices, skills, knowledge and rituals

The art of embroidery in Palestine: practices, skills, knowledge and rituals

Posted on October 23 2023

The art of embroidery in Palestine: practices, skills, knowledge and ritualsThe rich tradition of Palestinian embroidery finds its roots in rural areas in the 1800's, evolving into a widespread practice across the region and among the diaspora since 1948. Initially tied to rural attire, embroidery now permeates Palestinian culture, showcasing the intricate beauty of their heritage.Palestinian women's village attire is a canvas of cultural expression, consisting of various garments intricately embroidered with symbolic motifs like birds, trees, and flowers.The traditional patterns reflect a woman's regional identity, marital status, and economic standing, adding a personal touch to their traditional clothing.In Palestinian embroidery, colors and designs hold deep significance, offering insights into a woman's story and background. Some of these patterns symbolize good health, hope, prosperity and protection, among others.“What we create is not just any object: it represents hundreds of hours, feelings, frustrations, ambitions as well as good moments. It is a piece of soul and a piece of someone else’s life.”  Huda, SEP ArtistThe thob, a loose-fitting dress, takes center stage in Palestinian embroidery. This garment serves as a canvas for intricate artistry, with the chest, sleeves, cuffs, and vertical panels adorned with embroidered patterns.The thob showcases the artistry and skill that define Palestinian embroidery.Precious thread delicately sewn onto wool, linen, or cotton forms the history of Palestinian embroidery. The combination of these materials and the precision in stitching create the distinct texture and appearance characteristic of this revered art form, representing generations of craftsmanship.Palestinian embroidery is more than an art form—it's a social and intergenerational practice.Women come together, often with their daughters, to share stories, skills, and creativity as they embroider. Embroidery strengthens bonds, preserves a cherished tradition and is akin to therapy.Community centers and homes serve as gathering places for women passionate about embroidery. These spaces foster creativity and skill-sharing, enabling women to come together to create their exquisite embroidered pieces. The SEP Artists have their reference points at the Atelier and the Academy in Jerash camp and carry out most of their magical work in their homesEmbroidery isn't merely a hobby for many Palestinian women: it's a source of income as well as a form of Art. Some of them made a profession out of their heritage, such as the SEP Artists.Formal Training & the Future of Palestinian EmbroideryTraining courses contribute to skill refinement and knowledge dissemination, ensuring that this beautiful tradition thrives and adapts to contemporary times while staying true to its roots.EMBROIDERY IS EXPRESSION FREEDOM RESILIENCE

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