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Learn more about traditional Palestinian dresses

08-10-2011 10:44 BJT

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Red for married women, blue for young girls and black for widows. Traditional Palestinian dresses convey rich information about a women. The Palestinian Heritage Center of Bethlehem holds the largest private collection of traditional Palestinian garments.

For a Palestinian woman in the past, traditional costumes symbolize her native town and social status.

The elaborate embroidery can be read and understood by her fellow Palestinians.

But today, much of that history is lost.

Maha Saca started her traditional costume collection 20 years ago, in an effort to preserve her people's tradition.

Maha Saca said, "I started this work since 1991, more than twenty years. I feel that this is very important work because I do lots of research in the refugee camps and I take my knowledge from the people themselves."

One special headdress, with orange and purple embroidery and gold and silver coins, once belonged to her great-great-grandmother and was part of her dowry when she married in the late 1800's.

Maha Saca said, "This piece is very important and very nice. And also it's full of embroidery from the front and from the back. And we put it on our head like a hat. It sure is like the bank, you carry your bank. Because before one hundred years there is no bank and you carry your money on your head."

Saca also employed more than 40 Palestinian women to create patterns and embroideries for new dresses, cushions and table sets.

To Saca, their products mean not only revenue, but an important way to keep the culture alive.

For the workers, this a chance to be economically independent and increase the household income.

Asma AAmesh, embroiderer, said, "Maha gives us the freedom to work and the chance to create something different as long as we keep the original tradition and value in our works. Especially keeping the original Palestinian colors, such as red and orange but not bright colors, so the work should keep its origin and beautiful shape."

Saca's passion has turned into a book that she has co-authored with her daughter Iman, titled "Embroidering Identities: A Century of Palestinian Clothing".

For Saca it has become a life mission in her effort to preserve a piece of the Palestinian collective identity.


Editor:Liu Fang |Source: CNTV.CN

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