The Ramallah (Thob)
The Ramallah dress (thob) is made of white or
black cotton or linen fabric called Rumi or Ruhbani, hand woven in
imported from other regions of Palestine known for their famous textile centers.
The embroidery is in cross-stitch using
Mid to late nineteenth century dresses and scarves
were embroidered with predominantly geometric and abstract motifs, like
triangles, squares, eight pointed stars, flowers and trees. The colors used during
this early period were a combination of red, maroon, green, orange, gray, mauve
and pink. In the early to mid twentieth century such items were usually
embroidered with red and black silk thread. Around this time, European missionaries
have introduced new motifs into the Ramallah embroidery and
included birds, human figures and animals.
The dress chest piece (qabbeh) is embroidered
on a square linen fabric that was sewed on the chest of the dress. The
Rumi fabric was also used for dresses in other villages in the Ramallah area
including Bir Zeit, Immaus, El Bireh, Beit Surik and Betunia to name
The Ramallah open coat (Jallayeh) of the mid
nineteenth early twentieth centuries was usually made of Indigo-blue
hand-woven linen with
embroidery in cross-stitch and double sided cross-stitch in orange-red silks
with details in green, pink and mauve.
The palm pattern entirely covers the back of the
The Ramallah dress was complemented with a
horseshoe-shaped headpiece (smadeh) padded roll with a row of large
silver coins attached, called saffe.
The smadeh was embroidered in cross-stitch and covered with a veil called
khirkah. A chin-chain is usually suspended
from each side of the smadeh with an ornamental coin hanging beneath the
Khirqa is made from two pieces of hand woven fabric joined lengthways and
embroidered in cross-stitch with silk thread.
Nineteenth century khirqa was embroidered with geometric and abstract
motifs in multi colored silk thread. More
recent khirqas were embroidered with red and black thread. A
multi-colored tasseled silk fringe is attached at
each end of the veil.
the 1930s, a square veil made of silk fabric with machine embroidery became
popular in the Ramallah and Jerusalem
regions. Such veils were originally imported from Japan and Germany, but later
on they became locally produced
in both Ramallah and Bethlehem.
Belts (Zunnar) were worn around the waist of
the dress. Younger women wore red girdles, while black girdles were worn by older
women or those in mourning. A ceremonial version of the Kashmir girdle (ishdad)
is made of red atlas fabric and fringed and
tasseled band (dikkeh).
Ramallah Region Dresses