Highlight of the month

The Palestinian Museum Digital Archive

Embroidery: From Palestine to the World

Just when the Israeli Occupation intensified its systematic colonial attack to erase, steal and distort our national identity, and with the attempts and endeavors to isolate and seize components of the Palestinian heritage, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization “UNESCO” listed Palestinian Embroidery within the Representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as one of the Palestinian national elements during the sixteenth session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO held on Wednesday, 15 December 2021 in Paris. This serves as an important step to perpetuating and strengthening the presence of Palestine and empowering the united national identity in international and local forums, as well as averting all obliterating and forging attempts against the practices and social rituals of Palestinians and their civilizational and cultural heritage, wherever they are. It also affirms the depth of the connection of Palestinian heritage to its wider scope and its Arab and regional surroundings, extending from Sinai in the south, to Lebanon and southern Syria in the north, and the Jordan Valley in the east.

Since the Palestinian Museum Digital Archive has been concerned, since its launch in 2018, with approaching various patterns of behavior and indigenous practices and accompanying customs and traditions, embroidery has been present therein among many archived models of the daily life of Palestinians and the photographs and documents PMDA documents in support of producing a parallel Palestinian narrative, far from the exclusion imposed by metanarratives, power relations and their elite social and political networks. The Palestinian Museum has also recently succeeded in restoring and retrieving about 245 heritage pieces, including 90 embroidered Palestinian thobes, donated by their owners to the Museum, which worked to collect and settle said pieces within its flanks, forming an important part of the PM’s permanent collection. This monthly highlight constitutes a main and essential component of approaches targeting the need to preserve and protect the contents of Palestinian identity, defend it and pass it on to future generations, and respond to every claim that would target it with obliteration, marginalization, forgery and pollution. The highlight displays a collection of photographs documented by PMDA, showing many models of embroidered thobes that reflect the permanent presence of embroidery in various contexts and occasions.

0001.01.0042 A Photograph from the Ali Kazak Collection, PM’s Collection Room
“We Have Our Heritage and Civilisation”, a Poster Published by GUPPA, 1984

A poster published by the General Union of Palestinian Plastic Artists (GUPPA) in 1984 for the 17th session of the Palestinian National Council, features an artwork by Palestinian artist ‘Abd ar-Rahman al-Muzayyen. The piece depicts a woman, in a thobe bearing names of Palestinian cities, carries a hand-shaped vase over her head engraved, “Palestine” and “al-Quds”.

0159.01.0086 A Photograph from the Musa Allush Collection
Butrus el-Abed and Shafa al-Khoury, 1920

Taken on 20 October 1920, this photograph shows Butrus Issa el-Abed and his wife Shafa Khaleel al-Khoury where el-Abed is seen wearing a Tarbush and the traditional Qubmaz and associated belt, while al-Khoury is seen standing next to him in embroidered Palestinian thobe and headcover. 

0097.01.0018 A Photograph from the Ramallah Friends School Collection
A Studio Portrait of Ellen Audi, 1930

Taken in 1930, this portrait shows Ellen Audi seated at a studio while carrying hay made basket and wearing the Ramallah traditional embroidered Palestinian thobe and associated headcover.

0162.01.0025 A Photograph from the Najeh Burbar Collection
Musa Awwad and Jamila Burbar, Jifna, 1933

Taken in 1933, this photograph shows Musa al-Khoury Odeh Awwad and Jamila Ayoub Hana Burbar from Jifna, where Awwad is seen seated and wearing the traditional Qumbaz and associated belt, while Burbar is seen standing next to him in the embroidered Palestinian thobe and headcover. 

0159.01.0228 A Photograph from the Musa Allush Collection
Musa Sa’d and Hilwa Dawood, Birzeit, 1939

Taken in 1939, this photograph shows Musa Soliman Sa’d and his wife Hilwa Mitry Saleh Shahin from Birzeit, where Sa’d is seen seated and wearing a suit, a necktie, and a Tarbush while Shahin is standing next to him wearing the embroidered Palestinian thobe and headcover while holding a flower bouquet.

0159.01.0127 A Photograph from the Musa Allush Collection
Radi and Aziza Burbar on their Wedding Day, 1944

Taken on 13 August 1944, this studio portrait captures Aziza Bshara Burbar carrying a bouquet and wearing the Palestinian thobe and the traditional headcover standing next to her husband Radi Ibrahim Burbar in a suit and a necktie on their wedding day.

0161.01.0001 A Photograph from the Nadia Qatato Collection
Ibrahim Qatato and Nadia Kayleh in Palestinian Traditional Clothing, 1949

Taken in 1949, this photograph shows Ibrahim Qatato “Abu Issa” and Nadia Kayleh “Umm Issa” from Birzeit in Palestinian traditional clothing on their wedding day, where Kayleh is seen in the Ramallah embroidered thobe and headcover while Qatato is seen in the traditional Qumbaz and the Hatta and Agal.

0096.02.0001 A Photograph from the INAASH Association Collection
A Palestinian Embroidered Piece Handmade by Women of the INAASH Association, Lebanon, the 1970s

This photograph shows a handmade piece embroidered by Palestinian refugee women; members of the INAASH Association for the Development of Palestinian Camps in the 1970s. Following 1968, INAASH has come to the fore at the hands of Huguette Caland el-Khoury; daughter of the Lebanese President Bechara el-Khoury, and other Lebanese women to break the isolation of the Palestinian refugee camps and empower the Palestinian refugee women to help their husbands in the face of the Lebanese law that casts a veto over the Palestinian refugees in the Lebanese labour market. At a later stage, INAASH gained the support of Sirin al-Husseiny and other Palestinian women.

0028.01.0307 A Photograph from the Emile Ashrawy Collection
Fatima Yousef Sewing a Palestinian Thobe, Kobar-Ramallah, the 1970s

Taken in the 1970s by Emile Ashrawi, this photograph captures Fatima Yousef from the village of Kobar- Ramallah, seated on the ground with her back to the wall wearing a Palestinian embroidered thobe while sewing another with two girls standing next to her.

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