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The Language of Palestinian Embroidery

2-Session Studio Arts Workshop

Thursday, July 16 and 23, 2020 - 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1K00EF
$65 - Member
$85 - Non-Member

By Wafa Ghnaim


  • This program is part of our Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
  • Platform: Zoom
  • Online registration is required.
  • For multiple registrations, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses.


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. 

In her first session lecture, 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 second, hands-on session, Ghnaim will introduce 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 11-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.

No prior experience is needed.

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  • The instructor is Wafa Ghnaim.
  • 2 sessions, 1.5 hours each
  • This studio arts program is a Zoom Meeting to allow for patron and instructor interaction.


  • Once registered, patrons will receive two emails: one is an automatic email confirmation and the second will include a link to the Zoom meeting as a follow-up (usually given within 24 hours of registration).
  • NOTE: If you do not receive your follow-up email from Zoom, please email Customer Service for assistance.


This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.