The ancient craft of Palestinian embroidery has been passed on over generations and has even survived the ruptures of the Nakba, strife, occupation, massacres, sieges displacement and decades of exile. Over the last six decades, this art of embroidery, known as “tatreez”, also came to reflect political realities, notably during the intifada.
Following the massacres, ethnic cleansing and expulsions of Palestinians out of their homeland in 1948, the consequent destruction of the social fabric and economic and cultural life of the people of Palestine in exile, specially in Lebanon, individuals and groups of enlightened women established income-generating projects to revive the art of Palestinian embroidery, by producing and marketing embroidered articles thus providing income for destitute Palestinian refugee women.
“Today, as much as throughout history, embroidery is practiced by Palestinian women as a mode of implicitly expressing and marking their identity”, writes Rachel Dedman, curator of the Palestinian Museum’s at the Seams a Political History of Palestinian Embroidery exhibition held at Dar el Nimer for Arts and Culture in Beirut in 2016 in the book, that accompanied the exhibition.
In 1993 AL-JANA held a pioneering symposium and workshop in Beirut entitled Palestinian Embroidery: History and Practice.
This unique and rich forum invited the leading experts in this field from the region and was attended by the top designers and workshop coordinators of local women’s income-generating embroidery projects in Lebanon.
The Symposium Program reflected regional specificities well and consisted of:
Embroidery and contemporary design: by Sireen Huseiny.
Embroidery in the North of Palestine: by Widad Qawar.
Origins of Embroidery and the Chest Panel in the South of Palestine: by Edward Kash.
Bethlehem Area Embroidery: by Rose Shomali.
The Function of Embroidery in Society: by Samira Khouri .
Palestinian Embroidery in the Context of the History of Art in the Arab East: by Moa’taz Dajani.
Hands-on workshop program:
How to Design a Prototype for Palestinian Embroidery Production: by Adel Manzi.
Design and Color: Samira Khouri.
Embroidery Stitches in Palestinian Costume by: Rose Shomali.
Bethlehem Couching Technique: by Rose Shomali.
Patch Work Techniques in Palestinian Costume: by Aida Taha.
The event was held in partnership with Inaash, the Association for the Development of Palestinian Camps that was founded in the late 1960s by a group of Lebanese and Palestinian women who foresaw the need to preserve the rich heritage of Palestinian embroidery, and simultaneously provide financial support for destitute refugee families in camps in Lebanon.