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Traditional Palestinian Costume
Origins and Evolution
Hanan Karaman Munayyer

published 2011 • 10" x 14 1/4" • 560 pages • full-color photos throughout
ISBN 9781566568258 • hardback (with clamshell case) • $200.00

"Traditional Palestinian Costume is a magnificent work of deep love; among the most elegant artistic productions between two covers I have seen. We were all ooo-ing and ahh-ing when it arrived. Meeting this book is like opening a treasure box. Congratulations on your gift to the Palestinian nation, the Arab heritage and indeed the cultural legacy of the world...1000 mabruks."
—Dick Doughty, Managing Editor, Saudi Aramco World

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A joyous celebration of pattern and color, and of an enduring Palestinian tradition

The historical and cultural richness of Palestine is reflected visually in its costume and embroidery. Distinguished by boldness of color, richness of pattern, and diversity of style, and combined with great needlework skill, these textiles have long played an important role in Palestinian culture and identity and manifested themselves in every aspect of Palestinian life.

Based on over twenty-five years of extensive field research and the culling of museum resources and publications from around the world, this book presents the most exhaustive and up-to-date study of the origins of Palestinian embroidery and costume-from antiquity through medieval Arab textile arts to the present. It documents region by region the evolution of costume and the textile arts in Palestine in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is lavishly illustrated with over 500 full-color photographs from the highly praised Munayyer Collection, which includes a whole range of embroidered textiles from traditional costumes and coin headdresses of Palestinian village women to cloaks and jackets worn by village men to belts, sashes, and footwear. The exquisite colors of the silk stitching on natural linens are a feast for the eye.

The sumptuous photography and author's well-informed text greatly enrich our appreciation of Palestinian embroidery and make this book a valuable resource that displays this unique art in all its splendor.

Hanan Karaman Munayyer
, a Palestinian-American, is co-founder and president of the Palestinian Heritage Foundation. She has researched and lectured on Palestinian textile arts for over twenty years. She is also a retired molecular biologist who worked in pharmaceutical research for more than three decades.

Media Reviews

"The uncompromising beauty of Palestinian costumes... Perhaps one of the Middle East's most interesting costume traditions, Palestinian embroidery is enjoying a revival thanks to a handful of colorful exhibitions on textiles in the last few years, stretching from the Los Angeles Museum of Arts and Crafts to Abu Dhabi's TDIC. A globetrotting anthology courtesy of Hanan Munayyer-president of the Palestinian Heritage Foundation and owner of the world's largest collection-has helped the cause. Add to that, workshops like Inaash in Lebanon and Anat in Syria that work with Palestinian refugees to keep this remarkable art alive, and there you have it-a millenary tradition that still lives on today. Famous for its color and incredible needlework, Palestinian embroidery has played a quasi-political role as well. In the old days, certain patterns and needlework were indicative of a person's village: from what a woman wore, you could figure out where she came from. In the 20th century, embroidery has served as a tool to assert Palestinian identity. One beautiful volume now showcases 25 years of research by Munayyer, who has trolled museums, libraries and private collections around the world to shape this book. It documents costumes from antiquity to modern times, categorizing regional specificities, especially since the late 19th century onwards. Superbly illustrated-the book counts no less than 500 photographs documenting abayas, head gear, sashes, and the all important brides trousseaus, which young girls would start working on from their early teens-this is a mesmerizing must-have coffee table book."
-Elle (Middle East)

"This spectacularly beautiful production is a major contribution to recording a critically endangered costume heritage. Elegantly boxed, with hundreds of splendid photographs, many of them full page, as well as a small selection of old photographs, paintings and prints, and images of jewelry and household accessories, the book is a treasure chest of information. The introduction tells the moving story of Farah and Hanan Karaman Munayyer's determination to do something to preserve their land's threatened cultural heritage. The couple's own extensive collection, augmented by gifts and purchases, now numbers more than 1500 items and forms the core of the Palestine Heritage Foundation that they have established ( The first section sheds an extremely interesting light on the origins of Palestinian dress, with illustrations that show, for example, parallels between headdresses of the mid-20th century and those from second-century Palmyra, or embroidery designs from Ramallah and mosaics on the floor of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Palestine had an extraordinarily rich and varied embroidery tradition. Not only did each town or tribal group have its own designs and style, but they were constantly evolving. The dresses are stunning with every kind of technique-from counted thread work, to brilliant and modernlooking patchwork effects, to Ottoman-style couching. The book is arranged by major towns and, although older pieces are represented, is largely concerned with the dresses in use at the time traditional Palestinian society was overturned in 1948. Besides being a valuable resource for the history of costume, or the identification of pieces, Nathan Sayers's photographs make the book a wonderful resource for anyone interested in design or tempted to try her or his hand at some of the beautiful cross-stitch patterns."
-Caroline Stone, Saudi Aramco World

Reader Reviews
"A beautiful, memorable book documenting a vital and essential part of Palestine's cultural history... thank you for your wonderful contribution." 
—Dr. Jack G. Shaheen, author of Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People

"Sunningly gorgeous Traditional Palestinian Costume... This is a work of passionate commitment and unstinting dedication. Its comprehensiveness, density, elegance and sheer beauty are a tribute both to the subject and the author. Future generations will remember you for the monumental achievement."
-Walid Khalidi

"The book is absolutely magnificient.  We simply cannot get over the depth and beauty of it.  We have it out on the coffee table already. Thank you so much!"
—Arlene and Ed

"Our bookshop just got your new book in, and I just finished looking through it. It is stunning! Congratulations on this incredible project. You've offered so much good information and wonderful images. It is going to serve as an important resource. I just felt compelled to get in touch and say, congratulations!"
—Felicia Katz-Harris, Curator of Asian and Middle Eastern Folk Art, Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico

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Of Related Interest:
Embroidery of the Greek Islands
Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
Palestine (2nd ed.)
Palestinian Costume
Persian Painting
Mughal Miniatures