A new exhibit at Jerusalem’s Museum of Islamic Art aims to highlight Palestinian culture before 1948 – a topic that is more controversial than one might think.
“What hides within the embroidery patterns and the stitches of Palestinian women’s dresses?” asks the literature accompanying the exhibit. “Why did the women manufacture their clothes themselves? And in what way did the clothing highlight their unique identity and symbolize their personal status?”
The collection is on loan from Jerusalemite owner Manuel Kleidman.
“The art of embroidery accompanies the Palestinian woman since the dawn of her youth,” the exhibit announcement explains. “The technique, the patterns and the motifs were passed down from mother to daughter throughout the generations. A close look at this embroidery reveals the freedom given to personal expression and creativity, despite the adherence to traditional patterns.
“Thanks to the variety of stitches and styles of embroidery, women’s clothing and the accompanying hand-made accessories can be read as a complex language, reflecting the gender identity, the personal, the economic and the social status of the wearer. It is a language that wasn’t always figured out by men. As with every fashion, the Palestinian women’s fashion serves as evidence of the wearers’ choices: what to wear and how to define their identity.”
The Islamic Art Museum permanently displays items of Islamic art in seven galleries, and also the wonderful watch collection, which was recovered and returned to the Museum after being stolen almost 30 years ago.