Wednesday, December 29, 2021

  • Wednesday, December 29, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon



Palestinians are still upset over Miss Universe contestants wearing Bedouin robes. From Al Monitor:

Palestinian activists believe that Miss Universe organizers granting contestants permission to wear the Palestinian dress is theft of Palestinian culture and heritage. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank held popular events, during which women wore the Palestinian dress and prepared traditional foods, in protest of Miss Universe contestants wearing the Palestinian traditional dress, which is considered part of the cultural identity of the Palestinian people.

On Dec. 16, the art of traditional embroidery and the practices, skills and customs associated with it were inscribed among 43 new elements on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

“Women’s village clothing usually consists of a long dress, trousers, a jacket, a headdress, and a veil,” UNESCO stated. “Each of these garments is embroidered with a variety of symbols including birds, trees, and flowers. The choice of colors and designs indicates the woman’s regional identity and marital and economic status. Embroidery is a social and intergenerational practice, as women gather in each other’s homes to practice embroidery and sewing, often with their daughters. Many women embroider as a hobby, and some produce and sell embroidered pieces to supplement their family’s income.”

Palestinian Minister of Culture Atef Abu Saif said the inscription of the Palestinian embroidery on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage List is a victory for the Palestinian narrative based on the right of the Palestinian people to their land from which they were forcibly displaced during the 1948 Nakba.

Abu Saif pointed out that the Palestinian Ministry of Culture worked for over two years toward this goal by preparing the required documents that prove embroidery is a pure Palestinian heritage practiced by Palestinians for thousands of years.

Thousands of years?

One of the documents linked to in this article shows that Palestinians admits that there was no difference between the women's clothing in Jordan and Palestine - which contradicts the "unique" nature of the dress that they claim - and also admits that at least part of the women's robe (thobe) style comes from copying the dress of - a Jew!

 The traditional costume designer, Khawla Asaad, confirmed that the dress indicates the Jordanian-Palestinian interdependence, because the old dress in Jordan and Palestine was one, with evidence that the two dresses were the Salti (Jordan) and the Tamari (Palestine), and the dress of the Bedouin women in Palestine and Jordan was similar in the same design, and this dress was characterized by length and high Play (chest) so that no one can tell that the woman is pregnant, and so that the woman can put valuables inside the play, concluding by saying that this dress is taken from the dress of the Virgin Mary, peace be upon her, who became pregnant and gave birth without anyone knowing it because her dress was loose.

Mary was, of course, Jewish.

Palestinians claim that their tradition of intricate embroidery is what is unique to their culture, and Israel is "stealing" it, somehow, by calling it "Bedouin" and noting that many Bedouin in the Negev - full Israeli citizens - wear such clothing. 

But what if this tradition of intricate embroidery actually comes from Jews?

Jews throughout the Middle East and central Europe have been wearing intricately embroidered clothing for at least 200 years, as an exhibit at the Jewish Museum showed in 2018. 



But what about earlier than that?

In the mid-1800s, Thomas de Quincey wrote an essay, "The Toilette of the Hebrew Lady," based on research by another scholar named Hartmann. He describes the tradition of Jewish embroidery going back to Biblical times.

From this early rudiment was derived, by gradual elongation, that well-known under habiliment, which in Hebrew is called Ch’tonet, and in Greek and Latin by words of similar sound.  In this stage of its progress, when extended to the neck and the shoulders, it represents pretty accurately the modern shirt, or chemise–except that the sleeves are wanting; and during the first period of Jewish history, it was probably worn as the sole under-garment by women of all ranks, both amongst the Bedouin Hebrews and those who lived in cities. A very little further extension to the elbows and the calves of the legs, and it takes a shape which survives even to this day in Asia. Now, as then, the female habiliment was distinguished from the corresponding male one by its greater length; and through all antiquity we find long clothes a subject of reproach to men, as an argument of effeminacy.

According to the rank or vanity of the wearer, this tunic was made of more or less costly materials; for wool and flax was often substituted the finest byssus, or other silky substance; and perhaps, in the latter periods, amongst families of distinction in Jerusalem, even silk itself. Splendor of coloring was not neglected; and the opening at the throat was eagerly turned to account as an occasion for displaying fringe or rich embroidery.
...
The reader has been already made acquainted with the chemise, or innermost under-dress. The Hebrew ladies, however, usually wore two under-dresses, the upper of which it now remains to describe. In substance it was generally of a fine transparent texture, like the muslins (if we may so call them) of Cos; in the later ages it was no doubt of silk.

The chemise sate up close to the throat; and we have already mentioned the elaborate work which adorned it about the opening. But the opening of the robe which we are now describing, was of much larger compass–being cut down to the bosom; and the embroidery, etc. which enriched it, was still more magnificent. The chemise reached down only to the calf of the leg, and the sleeve of it to the elbow; but the upper chemise or tunic, if we may so call it, descended in ample draperies to the feet–scarcely allowing the point of the foot to discover itself; and the sleeves enveloped the hands to their middle. Great pomp was lavished on the folds of the sleeves; but still greater on the hem of the robe, and the fringe attached to it. The hem was formed by a broad border of purple, shaded and relieved according to patterns; and sometimes embroidered in gold thread with the most elegant objects from the animal or vegetable kingdoms. To that part which fell immediately behind the heels, there were attached thin plates of gold; or, by way of variety, it was studded with golden stars and filigree-work; sometimes with jewels and pearls interchangeably.
 On this upper tunic, to confine the exorbitance of its draperies, and to prevent their interfering with the free motions of the limbs, a superb GIRDLE was bound about the hips. Here, if anywhere, the Hebrew ladies endeavored to pour out the whole pomp of their splendor–both as to materials and workmanship. Belts from three to four inches broad, of the most delicate cottony substance, were chosen as the ground of this important part of female attire. The finest flowers of Palestine were here exhibited in rich relief, and in their native colors, either woven in the loom, or by the needle of the embroiderer. The belts being thirty or forty feet long, and carried round and round the person, it was in the power of the wearer to exhibit an infinite variety of forms, by allowing any fold or number of folds at pleasure to rise up more or less to view, just as fans or the colored edges of books with us are made to exhibit landscapes, etc. capable of great varieties of expansion as they are more or less unfolded. The fastening was by a knot below the bosom; and the two ends descended below the fringe; which, if not the only fashion in use, was, however, the prevailing one–as we learn both from the sculptures at Persepolis, and from the costume of the High Priest.

I'm no expert on women's clothing, but this description sounds a lot like what Palestinians now claim to be their own, unique dress.

De Quincey also points out Isaiah 3, which describes women's clothing translated as "the festive robes, the mantles, and the shawls; the purses, the lace gowns, and the linen vests; and the kerchiefs and the capes."

So what, exactly, is uniquely Palestinian about Palestinian embroidery? Intricate patterns including of flowers, bright colors, loose fitting floor length robes - all of these are documented to be associated with Jewish women for literally thousands of years! 

Even though no one claimed that the clothing worn by the Miss Universe contestants were Jewish, perhaps it is more accurate to say that they are associated with ancient Jewish culture more than anything "Palestinian!"








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