Embroidery

Palestinian embroidery is a rich artistic tradition that has been passed down by mothers to their daughter through generations. Designs vary from village to village. The main techniques used in Palestine are, cross-stitch and couching stitch (Tahriri). Women intricately embellish dresses, jackets, cushions, tablecloths and pillows made from natural hand dyed and woven materials. However, dresses have always been the most common embroidered items.

Dresses for everyday use are embroidered with silk while dresses for special occasions are use golden or silver threads. Traditional wedding dresses include layers of embroidered material, embellished with coral beads and golden or silver coins. The materials used indicate the financial and social standing of the family as well as their place of origin. Because the work is time-consuming, embroidered pieces of worn out articles are often cut out and used to embellish smaller items.

The Tahriri embroidery of the Bethlehem area combines silver, gold and silk threads to decorate front panels of wedding dresses and the side panels of skirts and cuffs of the long traditional dresses. The elaborate patterns are often filled in with herringbone and satin stitches in vibrantly colored silks. Some have pointed out the resemblance to intricate church ornaments, liturgical clothing, and even the ornamentation on the uniforms of Ottoman and British officers.