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Contributed by Turathuna Bethlehem University on 07.11.2006:

Hebron and the southern region of Palestine were famed for their weaving crafts. The peasants and bedouin of these areas relied primarily on herding for their livelihood, their sheep and goats being a vulnerable source of meat and milk as well as wool.

The weaving seasons started in spring and lasted until September or October, or as long as the weather remained dry, since weaving was done mainly in the courtyard. As with most other villages crafts in Palestine, weaving was the responsibility of women. The men’s share in production was the shearing of the animals and the finished products in nearby towns and villages.

After the animals had been shorn, the women washed and hand-spin the wool, using the drop-and-spin method involving a simple wooden spindle (maghzal). Some yarns were then colored with dyes which were extracted from wild plants growing in Palestine. Red was made from madder, a climbing plant with yellowish flowers, or from the cochineal cactus; red-brown, yellow and blue-purple were extracted from kermes, saffron and indigo respectively.

The weaving was done on a horizontal ground loom, the treadle loom being used only by town craftsmen. It was customary to see many looms neatly stretch out on the ground, with groups of two or three women sitting weaving at one end of the loom, while onlookers sat around exchanging news and creating an atmosphere of merriment to relieve the monotony of the weavers’ work.

The main colors of these articles were deep crimson as background, with dark green, dark blue and white stripes. Rugs and bags provided a warm note of color inside the often dark village home.

Source: Amiry, Suad and Tamari, Vera: The Palestinian Village Home, 1989.

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