Sunday, March 12, 2006
"darker blues may indicate a woman is a widower, especially in the Hebron region, and more embroidery indicates a higher class. ... Jerusalem embroidery was always more eclectic because of the inflow of pilgrims and officials; Ramallah was primarily red silk patterns on white, using motifs such as geometry, cypress trees and tall palms. Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour used a lot of silver and gold satin and silk threads. And Hebron produced the most intricate and colorful designs covering more of the outfits. Beersheba, Gaza and the Negev Beduin areas were also embroidery centers. With the influx of internationals passing through Palestinian cities during the Ottoman period, Palestinians in some areas incorporated foreign elements from international and Turkish trends. Red remains a favorite thread color today across the West Bank and Gaza, symbolizing passion and heritage or brotherhood."
The rest of this article is lots of condescending rubish on Palestinian Muslim village women being taught by Palestinian city women and learning from American women (taught what and learning what? embroidery?). And, yes, there is a dose of mumbo jumbo about peace and communication and empowerment.
The article will never tell you how EXPLOITED the village women are. They are paid pittance for wonderful, demanding work so that these shops and NGOs can make a buck and feel good about being Palestinian. It makes me so mad.
I grew up being told that "embroidery" is a woman's thing. At school, that was the major (ok, only) art form we learned. As a budding feminist, I resisted learning and would take my piece of cloth home and have my mother do it for me. I got As in my art class. Yes, I cheated. I prefer to see it as an act of feminist subversion.
Then at some point the national movement decided to fetishize Palestinian embroidery. I didn't care much for that either, because I hated seeing condescending upper class women who actually looked down on peasant women strutting around in Palestinian embroidered dresses on national occasions. It felt like a circus. This is why I never owned any embroidered dresses although it became quite fashionable to do so.
I did love my mother's dresses. She wasn't play acting. She wasn't showing off or making a political point. She was just who she was.
Then when the Islamists started substituting their colorless uniform for my blue jeans and my mother's dress, I embraced the practicality of the former and the beauty of the latter. I've been looking for a pair of embroidered jeans. Any idea where I can get some?