Back to overview

Embroidery in Ramallah Region

Contributed by Turathuna Bethlehem University on 19.07.2006:

An important embroidery center with a distinctive mode was Ramallah. The Ramallah thob with its cross-stitch embroidery in red silks was characterized by neat and somewhat restrained patterns. The people of Ramallah apparently originated from Shaubak in Jordan some three hundreds years ago. Although it was once thought that they might have brought their style of embroidery with them this seems unlikely. It is far more probable that they copied motifs from those around them in the Ramallah area, became masters of the craft themselves and ended up influencing other villages with the excellence of their work.

According to Jan MacDonald (1938) a typical Ramallah dress was made of twenty-one separate pieces and was called the mutarraaz (’embroidery’), and used to say as a song:

She embroidered the mutarraz and nobody saw her do it.

She even put velvet between the shoulder pieces.

Yet that would have embroidered roses on your sleeves,

A mixture of loveliness and thorns

You fascinate me with your designs.

May God keep your husband.

And may you always be petted.

There are some embroideries related to Ramallah Region:

[[picture:”p2.jpg” ID:918]]

Ramallah -area thob– early British Mandate period: This white linen thob with its arrangements of motifs is typical of Ramallah-area embroidery. The qabbeh (chest panel), which is worked straight on to the material, has the V-shape called kaus. The tooth-petal rosettes either side of the neck opening are qamr frangi (‘foreign moon’).

[[picture:”palestinian costume …second thob 60.bmp” ID:917]]

Ramallah area thob British Mandate period. This white linen thob is a good example of the work of the villages around Ramallah which were influenced by the latter’s style but preferred more embroidery down the sides of their costumes. The tree motif seen on the sleeves and up the front of the dress is saru (‘ cypress tree’); the large quatrefoil pattern is ‘the pasha’s tent’ (khem el basha), which is known in the Ramallah area as ‘moon with feather’. On the top of the ‘pasha’s tent’ is ‘kohl pot’ (mikhaleh) or another version of ‘flowerpot’. The neck is carefully appliqu├ęd with red cotton.

[[picture:”pal. costume 65.bmp” ID:919]]

This is indigo- dyed linen with mainly red silk embroidery. The dress has had its wing sleeves removed and short ones with Bethlehem embroidery inserted. The close-up shows the back panel with the ‘tall palms’ (nakhleh ‘ali) motif. All the outlining are feathers’ (riish).

[[picture:”p3.jpg” ID:920]]

This photograph was amongst those found in an old snapshot album. The lady seems to be standing outside the door of her house. Her Palestinian embroidery dress which relates to Ramallah area would appear to date the photograph to the 1930s.

[[picture:”khirqah.bmp” ID:921]]

Ramallah area khirqa: This head-veil (khirqah) from Ramallah is linen embroidered in cross-stitch using the classic Ramallah area motifs. The two lengths of linen are joined in the middle by the ‘key of Hebron’ (miftah khalil) motif. The three patterns on wither side are ‘moon with feather’. Straight above them to the left and right are ‘flowerpot’ or ‘kohl pot’ (mikhaleh). The stars designs are ‘moons’, in this case ‘moon of Ramallah’ (qamr Ramallah) followed by an ‘S’ within a diamond within a square. This for some reason was called either’ rose and leech’ or ‘worm in the eye of the apple’. Between the ‘moons’ the central bottom motifs are ‘tall palms’ (nakhleh ‘ali), which are very typical in Ramallah-area motifs and are frequently repeated in the central bottom hem panels of dresses. These motifs are generally worked in cross-and double cross-stitch.

[[picture:”thob.bmp” ID:922]]

Ramallah woman wearing an embroidered veil (khirqah), the late 19th or early 20th century.

Source: Rajab,Jehan. Palestinian Costume. London and New York: Kegan Paul International, 1989.

{Photos are collected from some embroidery books)

There are no comments. Add one!