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The Language of Palestinian Embroidery

Weekend Program and Studio Arts Workshop

Saturday, June 6, 2020 - 12:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Code: 1K00BX
$75 - Member
$85 - Non-Member
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Bookmark by Wafa Ghnaim

The thobe, a handmade embroidered dress, is the bedrock of Palestinian textile artistry. Since the 11th century, Palestinian women have showcased their skillful stitchery on this traditional costume, displaying unique motifs, colors, and styles across the various villages of old Palestine. After 1948, nearly a million Palestinians were forced into exile and carried their embroidery traditions into refugee camps around the world, a diaspora in which the thobe evolved into a symbol of national identity and solidarity.

Wafa Ghnaim—an author, teaching artist, and founder of Tatreez & Tea—leads a fascinating exploration of the language of Palestinian embroidery as used on the thobe and examines how generations of women have preserved and modernized these traditions in diasporic communities. She discusses topics including the evolution of the thobe; regional variations of traditional dress; political events that had an artistic impact on embroidery, such as the 1967 Six Day War and the First Intifada; and the work of today’s Palestinian embroidery artists.

In the workshop that follows her talk, Ghnaim introduces the basic counted cross-stitch that serves as the foundation for traditional Palestinian embroidery, guiding participants in creating a bookmark with a stitched thobe design on white 12-count Aida cloth. She covers measuring, selecting thread colors, transferring patterns to fabric, three types of cross-stitch methods, and finishing the bookmark with stiff felt, as well as how to continue your practice at home. All materials are provided, and no prior needlework experience is required.

One 4.5-hour session

S. Dillon Ripley Center
Room 3113
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)