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Special Report


Washington National Cathedral Exhibit 

Presented by the Palestinian Heritage Foundation


The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

By Richard H. Curtiss

April 1998


The Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC is displaying for a two-month period ending April 30 an exhibit of Palestinian arts and crafts provided by the Palestinian Heritage Foundation. Co-sponsors with the National Cathedral and the Palestinian Heritage Foundation are the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the American Committee on Jerusalem, both headquartered in Washington, DC.

“The Palestinian crafts exhibited are rooted in ancient traditions,” according to Farah Munayyer who, with his wife, Hanan, assembled and administers the very large collection from which the objects at the National Cathedral have been selected.

“The costumes are bridal dresses.” Farah Munayyer explained. “Each cluster of villages had its own style of traditional costume. Specific colors, stitches and patterns in a dress easily distinguish it from those of a different region. Some elements of these costumes have remained unchanged for centuries. The style of the Bethlehem headdress dates back to the 12th century BC, while that of Ramallah to the second century AD.”

Munayyer said that “the embroidered patterns on the dresses are symbols of hope, prosperity, good health and protection from evil. Their symbolic meaning served in perpetuating them as amulets, passed on from mother to daughter for generations. These old patterns are being used nowadays in modern articles of clothing or home decoration like pillows and tablecloths.

“Similarly, the ceramic tiles on display are decorated with patterns popular in the Roman and Byzantine era, and can be seen on mosaic floors in churches of that time,” Munayyer explained. “Ceramic tiles decorated the whole exterior of the Dome of the Rock mosque, a task undertaken in the 16th century ad by Suleiman the Great. This sacred majestic building has had a strong influence on local arts, and has caused the art of tile painting to flourish in Jerusalem.”

The Munayyers and the Palestinian Heritage Foundation can be reached at P.O. Box 531, West Caldwell, NJ 07006, tel. (973) 575-8648 and fax (973) 882-1545

Exhibit Co-Sponsored by American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and American Committee on Jerusalem 


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