Traditional Palestinian Thobes

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Traditional Palestinian embroidered dresses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palestine is famous for its traditionally hand stitched thobes (dresses) from across the region. Each city in Palestine has a traditional style and stitch that is uniquely woven into each dress. Below is a series of photos that depict each particular dress style, city to city, across Palestine.

Special thanks to the Palestinian American Cultural Center of Houston for their contribution to this piece.

Ramallah

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Ramallah –
A central city in Palestine, 10 kilometers north of Jerusalem.  Ramallah was known for its high-end lifestyle.  The dresses have distinguishable and finely executed patterns.  Throughout Palestine, Ramallah has been known for its white (un-dyed) roumi-linen embroidered Thob but black dresses were worn on special occasions and in winter.  Most of the embroidery was done with silk thread in mainly maroon tones using ancient Arab patterns.

Nablus

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Nablus –
Main city in northern Palestine, and an important trade center.  The fabrics used were imported from Syria and they came in a variety of stripes and colors creating a significant diversity in the traditional look.  The embroidery is not extensive due to Nablus’ urban nature and its trade relations with other big cities in the Arab world.

Al Khalil

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Al Khalil
One of the oldest towns of southern Palestine that was built on the highest hills of the country.  Village costume fabrics were hand-woven linens, cottons, and silks that were cut in a similar manner to Ramallah dresses, often with long sleeves.  They were covered, however, with much larger areas of embroidery not only at the front of the dress but the sides and back were embroidered in vertical patterns.  The usual embroidery stitch was cross stitch with fishbone as the joining stitch.

Gaza

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Gaza
A southern coastal city that was an important Mediterranean port.  This linen dress is heavily embroidered with triangles, scissors, and combs on the chest as well as front and back panels.  The emphasis on triangular motifs, and the use of designs with amuletic significance found in Gaza are a very strong link between the styles and traditions of the southern fellahin (peasants) and the local nomadic Bedouin tribes.

Gaza Region “Irq El Loz” (Almond Branch)

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Gaza Region “Irq El Loz” (Almond Branch)
Multiple colors have been used for this cottony fabric, including: black, blue, pink and green.  This Thob is distinguished by its bright fresh colors and the variety of embroidery patterns used.  The sleeves have “Irq El Loz” embroidery in stem and stain stitch.  Al Majdal, a southern coastal city, was known as the largest weaving center in Southern Palestine.

Bir El Sabe

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Bir El Sabe
It is the southern desert district in Palestine and it is known for its distinct and particular design and pattern.  The dresses tell a dramatic story.  The dominant red or maroon color is for the Palestinian bride, and the blue is for the widow.  The head cover is decorated with silver and gold coins. It is designed to protect the face from the harsh desert sun and storms. It is also a symbol of modesty.

Lydd

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Lydd

Located South East of historical Palestine.  This beautiful dress has less embroidery than dresses from other regions of Palestine.  It has wide sleeve panels and is lightly stitched on the chest piece and side panels.

Haifa

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Haifa
A beautiful coastal city in northern Palestine, also known as the “Bride of Al Karmel”.  Originally embroidered costume was worn throughout both upper and lower Galilee.  Examples from the 19th century show stunning mixtures of technique.  The garments were often made of handwoven cotton with front sections decorated in a rich patchwork of silk or taffeta appliqué (a technique known as heremezy) and ikat-dyed silk weaves, and with back panels embroidered with silk thread in carpet-like designs of geometric motifs.

Yafa

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Yafa
Main port and coastal city, and also known as the “Bride of the Sea”.  The beautiful white represents the most typical Yafa dress.  The embroidery is concentrated on the chest piece, sides, and back.

Jerusalem

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Jerusalem
Located in central Palestine and a holy city for the three monotheistic religions.  Jerusalem never had its characteristic embroidery style because of its international status and foreign influence.  The primary fabrics were imported from Damascus and were made of silk.  The Jerusalem dress is very colorful and has been influenced by the surrounding regions that gave it a nice mixed style.
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