Bedouin Embroidery - Zippered Pouch
Palestinian embroidery is a special and unique art form, passed down from grandmothers to daughters in both Bedouin and Fallahi (villager) societies in Palestine. Embroidery was mainly used for traditional dresses and pillows. Bedouin girls would make their own wedding dresses by themselves, years before their marriage. They used to use linen or cotton fabrics and the natural silk was stained by natural herbs or plants. But in the mid-20th century, they began importing coloured threads from Europe.
The different patterns and colors of the dress represent the status of women (bride, widow, divorced or single). The embroidered patterns also differ from one region to the other. The five basic patterns in Palestine are from the Jaffa region, Hebron, Be’er Sheva, Ramallah, Gaza, and Sinai (from Egypt but similar). The designs symbolize things from nature like pine trees, palm trees, wheat ears, stars, and flowers. Later they started to add some patterns that came from Europe, like birds and animals. The most popular color used is red.
After the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) in 1948, when Palestinian families became refugees, women in refugee camps started to use embroidery not only for private use but to make pieces to sell and earn an income to help their families.
In the Jahalin camp in Alazariyya village (East Jerusalem), Bedouin women have continued this craft, passed down from their grandmothers who were evicted in 1948 from the Negev. They’ve combined the Be’er Sheva pattern that their grandmothers taught them with what they’ve learned from the area they live in now.