Tatreez- Palestinian Embroidery

Cushions Palestinian embroidery R, Nazzal
(photo credit: Rana Nazzal)

I have never been a huge fan of cross stitch.  I do not stitch it that well and never gave it much thought.  I have been more intrigued by complex stitches and getting as good at satin stitch as Grandmom B.  However,  I love the colorful geometric designs of Palestinain embroidery, properly called tatreez.  And, tatreez uses only cross stitch. Hmm.

close up Palestinian embroidery
(photo credit: Rana Nazzal)

Using only one stitch, the patterns and colors create a huge variety of designs.  The Palestinian dress, or thob, is richly embroidered.  Each village or town had its own embroidery designs.  The thob through shape, fabric color and the color combinations and designs of the embroidery show where a women is from, as well as her social status.  Patterns are often gepmetric shapes but include other designs like cypress trees, grapes, apple trees, cauliflower, rooster, pigeons, rainbow, roses, birds, flower pots.

While historically tied to specific localities, tatreez continues to evolve as Palestinian women continue their needlework and teach younger women the craft.  The continuation of tatreez is a way to sustain heritage, community and cultural identity.  
(wonderful slideshow- Philadelphia Folklore Project)

Community by Sarah Green
photo by Sarah Green

“After we were dispersed, all tatreez became Palestinian tatreez. You want to preserve Palestinian tatreez, not individual villages. They’re all under occupation, and it’s now gone.” –Alia Shiekh-Yousef

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