Palestinian Women Traditional Costume

Traditional Cotumes worn by women in the old days is dissappearing from todays women wear.

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Women Traditional Costumes

Palestinian embroidery can be divided into four categories - ritual, technical, geographic, and structural. It must be noted, however, that the entire tradition of embroidery in Palestine has revolved around preparations for bridal trousseaus, given that wedding ceremonies are considered to be the most important occasion in the life of the Palestinian family. Normally, wedding gear would begin to be assembled several years before the wedding day. It used to be a collective effort that involved the bride, her relatives, and sometimes her neighbours. Designs and colour distribution would be determined by older women who have more expertise and a better understanding of the significance of each motif.
There are two types of ceremonial wedding gear: Bedouin and village. Bedouin wedding gear consisted of a black dress (thob), a head cover (quna'a), a veil covering the face (burquo'), earrings (schinafat), and wrist bracelets (khulkhal or asawer). The Bedouin wedding dress is made with wing-like sleeves, a chest panel, side panels, and a back panel. It is distinguished from the village dress by the extensive cross-stitch embroidery on the front panel, the soft, black material (habar), and the absence of the couching stitch.

The villager's ceremonial wedding gear consisted of the thob or jillayeh, the head veil (known as ghudfeh in the Hebron hills and the southern plains, khirqah in the Ramallah region, and schall elsewhere), the hat (known as shatweh in Bethlehem and samdeh or takiyeh elsewhere), the belt (zunar or ejdad), the jacket (taqsireh or jubbah), the handkerchief (mihrameh), and the trousers (sirwal or libas). Though most of the main garments had an overall resemblance in design, their motifs were not identical. Jewelry was mounted on the hat and often called the wiqayeh (protection against economic hardships).

The style of clothing worn by fellahin women was established by regional preferences and local social factors. Many of the basic garments maintained an over all similarity in design, if not in decoration. Fellahin costume consisted of the basic dress thob, pants libas, jacket jubbeh, and coat jillayeh. The thob, as with male costume, was generally a loose fitting robe with sleeves with the actual cut of the garment varying by region. Decoration on the thob was concentrated mainly on the square chest panel qabbeh, the cuffs and top of the sleeves, and vertical panels running down the dress from waist level. Some regions decorated a lower back panel of the dress known as the shinyar. Jackets and coats were usually kept for special occasions and were richly decorated according to local customs. Similar garments were sometimes worn by town women, although usually of better fabric and hybrid decoration styles. Unlike bedouin women, the fellahin did not veil their face except on their wedding day. Various styles of veils were developed to cover the hair, as were intricate headdresses heavily ornamented with coins.
Much importance was placed on embroidery, as it was thought that a prospective bride's character and personality were revealed through her work. By the time of one’s wedding it was expected that a bridal outfit be completed, as well as items embroidered for the home. The wedding costumes of Palestine were ornate and symbolic and consisted of the heavily decorated wedding dress and accessories together with valuable coin which covered headdresses and many pieces of silver jewellery. The style of the bridal dress, as well as garments for everyday wear, was determined by the regional style.

A myriad of embroidery stitches were popular in Palestine. While cross stitch has come to be thought of as the most commonly used stitch throughout the country – with the couching stitch favored in the Bethlehem region following in popularity – some areas, such as the Galilee, favored a mixture of cross stitch, satin stitch, stem stitch and hem stitching. The gold and silver cord and fine silk thread couching produced in Bethlehem and neighboring villages was so popular that wedding costumes featuring this type of embroidery were produced commercially by the women of Bethlehem for weddings throughout the country.
In southern Palestine and the Sinai Desert, cross stitch was certainly the preferred decorative technique, with either silk or cotton thread.
Motifs favored in Palestinian embroidery and costume were also diverse. Palestine’s position on the international trade routes certainly exposed it to influences from diverse fields.

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