Palestinian Embroidery – online talk

This Saturday, 21 November, OmarJoseph Nasser-Khoury will give an online talk on Embroidery from Palestine: Disciplining the Past to Craft the Future. He will speak about his experiences working to document and understand certain techniques of embroidery and rural textile traditions from Palestine. He will focus on the techniques themselves, the people he has worked with, and some of the ideas he has developed along the way.In 2018 he worked on updating the Palestinian textile collection catalogue at the British Museum. Some of this work was under the supervision of our Chair, Helen Wolfe.

OmarJoseph examining textiles from the British Museum collection. ©British Museum

“The British Museum’s Palestinian textile collection constitutes one of the largest textile collections at the Museum, with over 1000 pieces, and is one the largest and most extensive in the world. The BM’s collection is unique in so far as it contains men’s, women’s and children’s dress (garments, hats, headdresses and face covers), cosmetic pouches and soft furnishings that roughly cover the period over the last 150 years. Most significantly, it contains day-to-day dress of both genders that is often missing in other notable collections.” – British Museum website.

“The Palestinian textile collection is partly made up of two missionary collections which were acquired by the British Museum in the 1960s; the Church Missionary Society (CMS), and the Jerusalem and East Mission (JEM). These missions collected dress and textiles based on certain orientalist beliefs and historical misconceptions that regarded the 19th century styles of rural Palestine as unchanged since biblical times.” OmarJoseph Nasser-Khoury.

During his time at the British Museum OmarJoseph examined the stitching used on the textiles in great detail. He concluded that a particular motif from the south Palestine region (irq-il-loz – almond branch) was not embroidered with stem stitch as had previously been understood, but was in fact produced using a couching technique. He has recently co-authored the book Seventeen Embroidery Techniques from Palestine: An Instruction Manual.

Knotted zigzag joining stitch on silk taffeta and indigo dyed cotton – detail from a village woman’s coat (jillayeh) from the upper Galilee in the north of Palestine, early 20th century. © OmarJoseph Nasser-Khoury

This talk is hosted by the Institute of Islamic Studies at the University of Toronto. It will take place at 1600 GMT and is free, but advance registration is required.

This event is part of an eight-part monthly series entitled “Crafting Conversations: Discourses on the Craft Heritage of the Islamic World – Past, Present and Future,” an initiative of the Islamic Art and Material Culture Collaborative (IAMCC), Toronto, Canada. There are several talks featuring Asian textiles. For more information click here. If you have any questions or want to be added to the IAMCC mailing list, please email Dr Fahmida Suleman, Curator, Islamic Art and Culture, Royal Ontario Museum.


Exhibition: The Albukhary Foundation Gallery of the Islamic world

19th century headdress from Palestine

The newly opened Albukhary Foundation Gallery of the Islamic world represents an exciting new vision, displayed across two magnificent refurbished galleries at the heart of the British Museum, London. The British Museum’s Islamic collection comprises a broad and diverse spectrum of the material culture produced from the seventh century to the present day in the Islamic world, a series of regions stretching from West Africa to Southeast Asia. From archaeological material to contemporary art, from the paintings and vessels made for royal patrons to the evocative objects of daily life, this new Gallery brings together the stories of interconnected worlds across time and geography.

There is a huge amount of information available on the website of the British Museum. This includes blogs on conservation, information on how the collection was formed and, perhaps most importantly, the opportunity to view every single object from the Gallery. You can do a general search, or view the objects contained in each case, such as Case 4 Islam in Africa: Kano to Zanzibar. This is indeed a fascinating rabbit hole to get lost down……

 

Event: Textiles from the Arab World collected by Jenny Balfour-Paul

Event date: Tuesday 27 November 2018

Julia Nicholson, Curator and Joint Head of Collections Management, Pitt Rivers Museum and Abigael Flack, Collections Officer, will lead this viewing of some fantastic textiles from the collection of Jenny Balfour-Paul, as well as explaining the role of voluntary community curators in the Multaka Oxford project.

For more information on the type of textiles on view have a look at this blog post written by Abigael,  Textiles from the Arab World: A dress from Palestine. Don’t forget to click on the images to see the enlarged versions of this dress with its red silk embroidery featuring couching and cross-stitch.

Location: Pitt Rivers Museum (South entrance, from South Parks road)

Time: from 4 pm refreshments, 4.30 – 6 p.m. talks and viewing.

Admission is free for OATG members, and £3 for non-members (payment at the door).

Article: – Textiles from the Arab World – A Dress from Palestine

 

Abigael Flack is the Collections Officer at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, and has written a great blog about her work on a dress donated to them by Jenny Balfour-Paul.

Abigael writes:-

“As the Collections Officer, part of my role is cataloguing a recent offer of textiles collected from across the Middle-East and North Africa, which the museum is in the process of acquiring. Costume and textile collections are some of my favourite to work with, particularly because how we dress can say so much about us. As such, costume and textile objects will be a great jumping off point for discussions with our volunteers and participants.

Lately I’ve been working on textiles that were collected from Palestine, like this beautifully embroidered dress. This traditional dress (thob) is probably from either Ramallah or Bethlehem and likely made around the 1920s-30s. It is made from hand woven natural linen and decorated with distinctive red silk embroidery. The silk would likely have been imported from Syria. The dress shows many of the features of traditional Palestinian costume, including the rich colour of the threads and the square chest panel (Qabbah) with embroidered motifs.”

To read the full blog and see more images of this dress click here.

Exhibition: At the Seams – A Political History of Palestinian Embroidery

Palestinian Museum - At the Seams

Exhibition dates: 25 May – 30 July 2016

At the Seams is the Palestinian Museum’s first international satellite exhibition. Curated by Rachel Dedman, it opened in May at Dar el-Nimer for Arts and Culture in Beirut, Lebanon. The exhibition, which includes items from the fascinating collections of Widad Kawar and Malak al-Husseini Abdulrahim, casts a critical look at the role of embroidery in shaping historic and contemporary Palestinian politics and culture. Based on years of research and fieldwork, and featuring newly commissioned videos, At the Seams is interested in the history of embroidery beyond 1948, exploring its role in nationalism, resistance and the practice of Palestinian identity today.

If you can’t get to Lebanon to see the exhibition in person, you can still watch the video clips in which ten women speak about their embroidery. I highly recommend them.

For more information, and a short video about the exhibition, visit the website of the Palestinian Museum, near Ramallah, Palestine.