Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

"Threads of Tradition": An Exhibition of Palestinian Folk Dress at Antiochian Village

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

"Threads of Tradition": An Exhibition of Palestinian Folk Dress at Antiochian Village

Article excerpt

One of the most beautiful elements of the Palestinian culture and heritage can be discovered at a new temporary exhibition, "Threads of Tradition," at the Antiochian Heritage Museum at Antiochian Village near Ligonier, PA. The exhibition showcases regional ethnic folk costumes that represent the textiles and embroidery of eight regions of historic Palestine, from the Naqab Desert in the south and the Dead Sea in the east to Galilee in northern Palestine. On display are handloomed, hand-embroidered ceremonial dresses actually worn by Middle Eastern brides at their weddings, then throughout their married lives for ceremonial occasions.

"The exhibition illustrates more than exquisite threads of silk, silver and gold. The intricate designs reflect the bride's identity through regional symbolism in design, stitches and color," explained the exhibition's guest curator, Hanan Karaman Munayyer. "As people would gather in marketplaces or for local festivals, their regional dress would show pride for their region and loyalty to their region, also referred to as their clan."

Munayyer is president and co-founder of the Palestinian Heritage Foundation (PFH), and since 1987 has personally developed the extensive 1,500-piece costume and textiles collection, the largest in the United States.

The costumes and accessories displayed span approximately four decades, reflecting dress from the 1860s to 1940s. The origin of styles and form, however, dates back to antiquity and Canaanite times of 1500 to 1200 BC. From then until 1940, all dresses were cut from natural fabrics on a similar A-line shape with triangular sleeves, referred to by modern archaeologists as "Syrian tunics." These "tunics" were adorned with intricate cross-stitching in colorful silk threads, with heavy embroidery on the chest, the sleeves, and the skirt's center front, back and sides. They were accessorized with a girdle (belt), which gathered the tunic to shape; a unique headdress (hat or cap), which was decorated with a woman's personal wealth in coins received from family, friends and her husband as wedding gifts; and, finally, an elaborately embroidered and fringed veil (scarf or shawl).

Many of the geometric pattern designs are dated from the fourth to second centuries BC. These patterns symbolically represent hope, prosperity, good health and protection, regardless of faith, as Middle Eastern people lived in harmony within their region in earlier times. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.