"Threads of Tradition"
The Palestinian Heritage Foundation is pleased to announce
that its Exhibit, "Threads of Tradition: Palestinian Traditional Costumes",
which has been on display at the Antiochian Heritage Museum since May 2005, has
been extended for an additional six months, to the Spring of 2006.
Visitors to the Exhibit have come from as far away as New Jersey, Ohio,
Maryland, Michigan and Pittsburgh.
During the coming months, the museum is planning special
educational programs for local visiting groups, including tours, lectures and
Chest piece of the
Bethlehem Malak costume
Images from the Gallery
Click image to enlarge
PHF Activities Featured on Al Hurra TV Worldwide
On Tuesday, August 9, 2005, PHF Co-founders Hanan and
Farah Munayyer were featured in a 15-minute interview on Azzrar, a weekly
cultural program broadcast worldwide on Al Hurra TV. The interview was
conducted on site at the Antiochian Heritage Museum in Bolivar, PA where
"Threads of Tradition: Palestinian Traditional Costumes", is currently on
The interview covered the items on display and the
background history of the research Hanan has been conducting on the history and
evolution of the art of embroidery in the Middle East. The program has been
very well received throughout the Middle East.
PHF Participate in 5th Mahrajan Al Fan in New
Pieces from PHF’s collection were on display at the Mahrajan Al Fan
festival held in New York City from November 4 through 6, 2005. Five
embroidered bridal costumes representing Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Asduud and the
coastal and Naqab regions were included in the display that attracted the
attention of many of the festival’s visitors.
This year's Mahrajan was a spectacular 3-day festival sponsored by the
World Music Institute and the Arab-American Arts Institute.
On Friday, Adonis, one of the Arab world's most renowned poets, made a
rare New York appearance at the festival. Adonis is admired for his
revolutionary and mystical works, and has deeply influenced both his
contemporaries and younger generations of poets. Adonis read his poems in Arabic
with musical interludes by Simon Shaheen on 'ud.
On Saturday, the program featured virtuoso performers Simon Shaheen on the
'ud, Min Xiao-Fen on Chinese pi'pa, Christopher Morrongiello on the lute
and Vic Juris on the guitar. The highlight of the evening was Tunisia's Sonia
M'Barek whose soul-piercing vocals resonate with euphoric tarab. Sonia is
one of the few female soloists performing maluf (Tunisian court music), which is
rooted in medieval Andalusia and closely related to the music Libya, Algeria and
The Sunday afternoon program offered children's events, colorful Tunisian,
Algerian and Al-Andalus folk and classical dances with the Jawaahir Dance
Company, storytelling, and crafts, including calligraphy, embroidery and henna
concluded with two theater performances: Award-winning Palestinian actor
Mohammad Bakri presented his one-man show, Pessoptimist. The second
performance, The Details of Silence, written by Nathalie
Handal and directed by Cynthia Croot, was a sensual, daring political play that
explored the internal and external worlds of Arab women.
PHF was instrumental in decorating the theater's stage with Middle Eastern
crafts from its collection.
Foundation Acquire Al Bireh Antique
recently acquired an antique embroidered bridal dress from Ms. Jumana Hasan of
Ohio. In her letter to PHF, Ms. Hasan wrote: "The dress belonged to my
grandmother Hasab Amer Al-Abed who passed away in 1982 at the age of 65. It was
given to her when she was married at 16 years of age. She was from El-Bireh
My grandfather's family were wealthy landowners, so I guess
the headpiece she wore with the gold coins was a sign of affluence. The actual
headpiece I believe, was worn on the head, and then the gold coins were attached
to it. I do not have that actual headpiece, just the gold coins. The dress will
be a wonderful tribute to my grandmother's name."
The dress is made of black velvet with a typical Ramallah
chest piece embroidered in cross stitch with red silk thread and gold cord. The
sleeves have yellow and red taffeta inserts embroidered with Bethlehem couching
PHF thanks Ms. Hasan.
Send in the Gowns
Sunday, August 14, 2005
By Rebekah Scott, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
No matter what the bridal boutique sales lady tells you, a "traditional"
wedding gown is not necessarily ruffled, slinky, lacy or even white.
In the Middle East region known historically as Palestine, the bridal gown
tradition reaches back 2,000 years. Gowns are black, brown or off-white, or
sometimes a brilliant combination of red, orange and hot pink, jingling with
Like a Scotsman's tartan, a Palestinian wedding dress tells through color,
cut and stitching the wearer's native region, village and clan.
Spring view of the Museum
Hanan Munayyer's collection of knockout Palestinian bridal wear is on
display now in "Threads of Tradition: Palestinian Traditional Costumes."
The show continues through November at the Antiochian Heritage Museum located at Antiochian
Village Conference and Retreat Center, an Arab-Christian gathering place on
Route 711 north of Ligonier.
The Village is unofficial headquarters for a North American diocese of the
Antiochian Orthodox Church, an Arab-Christian congregation with roots in what is
now Turkey. Twenty years ago, second-generation immigrants bought the 400-acre church
camp and poured more than $20 million into new cabins, a chapel and
library, hiking trails and the three-gallery museum space.
The galleries host shows of artworks, icons, vestments and furnishings
from a variety of Middle Eastern countries and tribes. The antique wedding gowns
fit perfectly into the museum's cultural agenda, said events coordinator Sally
Richards, because they show an aspect of daily domestic life in a fast-vanishing
A visit to the museum is part of the package for young campers who come
from all over North America for the summer sleep-away program. "It's surprising to see how many of the kids recognize these clothes from
old photos of family members," Richards said.
Gowns are made of natural-brown or black linen inset or appliquéd silk,
embroidered with ancient geometric designs called Bird of Paradise or Tree of
Life. Each town or tribe had its own colors, motifs and techniques; sometimes a
coin-covered bridal vest was passed down from bride to bride, a way to
ceremonially display the wealth of the entire clan.
Up in Haifa, the wedding dresses were white, alive with brilliant red
embroidered birds, flowers and vines. Bright red pantaloons
peek from under the hem.
Men wove the linen in Ramallah, but the bride and her friends embroidered
it for months before the wedding. One black dress from the 1930s has a thickly
stitched yoke made in Bethlehem, full of expensive metallic thread -- times were
good there. But a dress from the 1890s reflects a less than prosperous wedding
under Ottoman rule. The cross-stitching is sparse, but this bride still managed
to stand out: the silk embroidery thread is dyed lavender purple, an unusual
shade for its time.
Elaborately embroidered panels were sometimes cut off a worn-out dress and
transplanted onto a new garment, or made over into pillow covers or wall decor.
A close-up of the headdress.
From Asdud and Majdal come shocking pink fabrics, dyed using the seashell
extract that made the area famous in Roman times. A saffeh headdress is lined
with heavy silver coins; another headpiece has detachable silver bangles in
cross or crescent shapes, so Christian or Muslim brides could choose the
The bridal wear on display isn't all glitter and flash. Desert-dwelling
Bedouin brides wore huge black gowns with severe geometric insets on the
shoulders. There were no low-cut bodices, bustles, trains or tulle. And definitely
Hanan Munayyer isn't a dress designer. She and her husband are collectors
of cultural artifacts. Both were born in the 1940s in what is now Israel. They grew up in the
turbulent days that saw Israel established. In the millenniums since, the same land was renamed and settled
by a rainbow of ethnic groups and religious persuasions collectively.
Munayyer's collection sidesteps the conflicts that often accompany
discussions of the region's recent history. Her collection stops in the
1940s, she said, just before Israel was created in 1948.
Mention Fallujah, Ramallah or Gaza to her, and she'll tell you which type
of stitching, silk threads, vegetable dyes were used in each area a century ago.
Both the Munayyers are pharmaceutical researchers in New Jersey and avid
collectors of now-vanishing antique gowns and ethnic embroideries. Since
1987, they've accumulated almost 400 costumes and 1500 accessories, furnishings,
lamps and musical instruments -- things younger generations of Palestinians
might not recognize as part of their heritage.
Bedouin dresses from the Naqab desert, 1940.
"Throughout the '50s and '60s, everyone was married in white, but now I'm
seeing more brides -- educated, cosmopolitan women -- honoring their roots by
wearing some element of traditional attire," Munayyer said. "I've loaned several
newer dresses to brides in the U.S. or in Canada. ... And the Palestinian
embroidery workshops in Lebanon still are capable of beautiful workmanship."
Munayyer doesn't expect a great surge in ethnic wedding attire anytime
soon, she said. Headpieces were anchored in the bride's long, braided tresses,
and won't work with a short haircut. Heirloom-quality gowns are hard to find,
labor-intensive, expensive and heavy.
"They're not comfortable to wear, and they're not very slimming," said
Hanan. "By the time you put on all these layers of clothing, belt, veil,
headpiece ... even if you're slim, you look like a tent. A really gorgeous
(Rebekah Scott can be reached at email@example.com or 724-836-2655.
Campers at Antiochian Village Enjoy Palestinian Exhibit
This past summer, almost one thousand campers at the
Antiochian Village Camp in western Pennsylvania, got a closer look at
Palestinian culture and heritage by visiting the exhibition "Threads of
Tradition: Palestinian Traditional Costumes” at the Antiochian Heritage Museum.
The tour of the Exhibit was incorporated into the campers’ morning program. The
campers spent about fifteen minutes viewing the garments and other items on
The campers’ counselors encouraged the campers to look
closely at the intricate needlework and emphasized the time and care that had
been put into creating this attire. After the tour, the campers spent about half
an hour in a cross-stitch activity that gave them the opportunity to imitate
some of the patterns in the garments, or to create their own design. Some
campers even asked for more yarn so that they could continue their projects
during their journey home, and other female campers said they would like to wear
such bridal costumes at their own weddings.
PHF is thrilled to provide the campers with this educational
opportunity, and is moved by their interest in the collection.
Egyptian Artisan Brings Bride's Wooden Chest Back into
By Mohammed Zaatari
Daily Star staff Friday, September 02, 2005 SIDON:
In an attempt to revive old traditions, the wooden chest in which the
bride used to pack her trousseau is back in Lebanon, but for decoration and
ornament, and not out of nostalgia for this old tradition.
Mahmoud Mohammad Moussa, of Egyptian nationality, brought back the bride's
wooden chest to Sidon, after it has disappeared from the scene for more than 10
years. Inside his small atelier in Sidon's industrial city, Moussa transforms
wooden boards into a magnificent piece of art. With his chisel, Moussa carves
copper plaques in an operation marked by accuracy and refined sensations. The
sound of the chisel on copper reminds you of the musician who caresses the
violin to bring about a beautiful air.
Fabricating a bride's box requires so much time, especially that work is
based on hand craft. Moussa said: "I don't like to use modern tools; I depend on
my mind and my hands and my work is based on creativity and art." "I concentrate
first on the idea through the study of the history of ancient civilizations and
then he sketches it and starts carving the copper plaques.
Moussa added. "It takes a whole month and lots of patience and serenity to
complete the fabrication of the bride's box," Moussa said. Inside his disordered
atelier, Moussa works hard to build a box depicting the ancient Egyptian
civilization. "This box is my favorite," he said, "It carries the scent of my
ancestors." He delivers his works of art to antique shops in downtown Beirut,
where his bride's boxes can be sold for about $3000. He said: "When I
first started this work, it was like a big risk, considering its costs and the
lack of raw material; but the demand of Gulf and African markets made me engage
in this adventure."
In the Mail..........
Dear Farah and Hanan, On behalf of Antiochian I want to thank you for
bringing your "Threads of Tradition" display to the Village and for all the work
you did in getting it ready for the gala. We hope to see you soon.
Thanks again, Sally and Amy, Antiochian Village,
Dear Farah and Hanan
Marie and I have reviewed, with great anticipation, your recent
newsletter. What can we say...Your Exhibit at the Antiochian Heritage Museum in
Pennsylvania is First Class !! . We were wowed and overwhelmed with the beauty
of the designs and the fine artistry that was poured into each dress. Again
congratulations on another remarkable job. You have worked hard and went to
great lengths to preserve, document and exhibit the fine art of Palestinian
native costumes. The entire Palestinian nation owes you a lot of thanks and
gratitude. May God bless you, as you carry on your historical work. Best
Regards, Mustafa and Marie
Hi Farah and thank you for the forward. I logged onto the website and
found a most impressive review of your great collection. Thank you for your
continuous work to preserve our Palestinian Heritage. Regards to Hanan and all
Dean Hamdan, Montclair, NJ
Dear Farah, It's a very nice and informative web site, and the
exhibit looks very good. Thanks for your offer of help--we may be in touch in
the coming months.
Geoff Emberling, University of Chicago
The display in the newsletter looks absolutely amazing-it makes me so
proud, I hope you will have another one soon in the DC area. I will be there
soon. This dress struck my eye, it is incredible where did you get it??
Laila El Haddad, Gaza
Dear Farah and Hanan,
This is a very impressive exhibit. I can tell that it took years of
dedication and many days and nights of hard and professional work to put such an
exhibit together. If a picture is worth a thousand words, your efforts bring an
awareness of the Palestinian culture to the US scene and present a positive
picture in the midst of intense negative media coverage about the Palestinian
Very, very beautiful, Farah and Hanan. Thank you for your excellent work.
Nada Khader WESPAC Foundation, Westchester, NY
I took a look on the July newsletter … again Awafei and God bless you and
your efforts. Frankly I am thinking what my Grandmother head dress- Hatta- can
lend to your collection, I know only I do not want to donate it. Is there any
way to display it under your activities?
Deeb Daoud, Galilee
Great work! Congrats to you and Hanan. Let me know how long the exhibit
will be up in PA. I am back in CA and have some work in mid Sept. in NYC, maybe
I can get a chance to check out the exhibit. I am sharing your website with
friends and family.
Randa Dabit, CA
Dear Farah and Hanan,
Amidst all the mess we are in, I still think about you and I am very happy
for all your accomplishments which are absolutely thrilling and utterly amazing.
Congratulations!!! You are stubborn and made a great job. If you are still
willing to do an exhibit here in Lebanon with the collaboration of Mrs. Kanafani,
I am always ready. Give me always your latest news, it makes me so happy!! Nidal
Al Ashqar Beirut, Lebanon
Dear Hanan and Farah Munayyer,
My name is Iwona Rychter. I have found your site looking for Anna May for
my father's request who is writing the book about our family. Anna was of not
German but of Austrian origin. She was Tadeusz Rychter's wife, a Pole, who was a
painter too in Jerusalem. Thanks to your interesting exhibition about
Palestinian culture, I could see Anna's painting for the first time! So her
water colour pictures of Palestinian people went to America! I am very glad of
it. I will send your site address to my father, Jan. Congratulations, Iwona
Dear Sir or Madam, Please add my name to the mailing list for your
newsletter. In the September/October issue of the Washington Report I saw the
reference to your organization in their glowing review of the Palestinian folk
dress exhibit in Pennsylvania. I was glad to hear that the costumes will be on
exhibit until the Spring of 2006. I hope to make the trip to Ligonier, PA
sometime this fall.
Palestinian Costumes & Embroidery:
A Precious Legacy
A Video Review By Shira
For the video review by Shira click the link below: