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Women singing A panel of women celebrating at a wedding embroidered by the women of Albeit Alsamed embroidery group Gaza

wedding singers

Both men and women sing at weddings, but the singing of the women will outdo by far that of the men because it reflects practices related to Palestinian heritage.  The women’s singing is divided into two different types in terms of performance: the first type is what is referred to in Arabic as al-mardudeh, which is a sort of repartee between the lead singer, known as the badda’a (the talented one) and the group of women present at the wedding. The second type is known in Arabic as the mhaha, which is a solo song performed by one of the women for a particular reason and addressed to a specific person, usually the groom

We have on this land that which makes life worth living”


A panel of calligraphy design by Ibrahim Muhtadi embroidered in black and white by Hekamt Ashour from a poem by Mahmoud Darwish

Women’s traditional thobes.  Spacers of Bethlehem and Gaza embroidered by the women of Albeit Alsamed embroidery group, Gaza

thobe Bethlehem

It is not known exactly when Palestinian village women began to adorn their clothing with embroidery. Shelagh Weir, a Palestinian costume historian, suggests it may have been some time during the middle of the 19th century. Most girls were encouraged to stitch at around 6 years old and they were taught the patterns, designs and motifs of their village by the embroidery elders.  Every stitch and motif has a name which belongs to a specific village or area.  Different parts of a garment will have different stitches and designs according to the wearer’s status and the customs of the village. Palestine was a trade route for neighbouring countries and much of Palestinian embroidery has been influenced by travellers, for example,from Turkey, Syria and Greece.

thobe Gaza


Sakhneen. A panel stitched by Haneeyeh Abo Saleh of Galilee.

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In 1976 the Israeli government’s decision to expropriate 20,000 acres of Palestinian land, as part of its plan to ‘Judize’ the Galilee, provoked strong protests amongst local Palestinians. The heads of the Palestinian municipalities in Israel called for a day of general strike and protest demonstrations on 30 March. The demonstrations took place all over the country, including the Sakhneen area in Galilee. The Israeli military confronted the demonstrators resulting in the deaths of six Palestinians, two in Sakhneen, with many wounded and the seizure of the land. A monument of commemoration was erected in the Sakhneen cemetery. Each 30th March thereafter has become a Palestinian national day of remembrance and popular resistance, known as Land Day.