Palestinian Heritage Foundation 

Newsletter of the Palestinian Heritage Foundation
  Volume 16,  No. 1                                April, 2010    

نشرة مؤسسة التراث الفلسطيني

The Palestinian Heritage Foundation

Coming Soon

Traditional Palestinian Costume

Origins and Evolution

By Hanan Karaman Munayyer

A joyous celebration of pattern and color,
and of an enduring Palestinian tradition.

The historical and cultural richness of Palestine is reflected visually in its costume and embroidery. Distinguished by boldness of color, richness of pattern, and diversity of style, and combined with great needlework skill, these textiles have long played an important role in Palestinian culture and identity and manifested themselves in every aspect of Palestinian life.

Based on over twenty-five years of extensive field research and the culling of museum resources and publications from around the world, this book presents the most exhaustive and up-to-date study of the origins of Palestinian embroidery and costume—from antiquity through medieval Arab textile arts to the present. It documents  the evolution of costume and the textile arts in Palestine in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries region by region. It is lavishly illustrated with over 500 full-color photographs from the highly praised Munayyer Collection, which includes a whole range of embroidered textiles from traditional costumes and coin headdresses of Palestinian village women to cloaks and jackets worn by village men to belts, sashes, and footwear. The exquisite colors of the silk stitching on natural linens are a feast for the eye.

The sumptuous photography and author’s well-informed text greatly enrich our appreciation of Palestinian embroidery and make this book a valuable resource that displays this unique art in all its splendor.

Hanan Karaman Munayyer, a Palestinian-American, is co-founder and president of the Palestinian Heritage Foundation. She has researched and lectured on Palestinian textile arts for over twenty years. She is also a retired molecular biologist who worked in pharmaceutical research for more than three decades.

Art/Traditional Craft • 10”x 14 ¼” • 448 pages • full-color photos • maps •
ISBN 978-1-56656-825-8 • hardback (with slip case)


Interlink Publishing

Hanan Lectures at Zimmerli Museum

On Monday, January 25, 2010, Hanan Munayyer, PHF President and Commissioner of the New Jersey Arab American Heritage Commission was guest speaker at the Zimmerli Museum at Rutgers University in East Brunswick, New Jersey. The lecture provided guidance on Arab culture and the Arab American community to about twenty docents who are conducting organized tours of the  ongoing exhibition of renowned Moroccan artist Lalla Essaydi, Les Femmes Du Maroc. This exhibition presents a selection of seventeen large-scale photographs from the artist’s most acclaimed series.

The title of the series is adapted from Eugene Delacroix’s iconic Orientalist painting, Les Femmes d’Algiers of 1834. Orientalist paintings such as this one, which was created against the background of the European colonization of much of the Arab world, fostered a view of the Middle East as a sensual paradise of beautiful and alluring women, rich colors, and exotic tastes. Using these paintings as a point of departure, Essaydi recreates their composition with contemporary Arab women who collaborate with her in the staging and production of these photographs. They re-invent the mostly male European/American view of the Islamic world from the perspective of Islamic women.

On Wednesday, March 3, 2010, five distinguished scholars presented a panel discussion to provide insights into Lalla Essaydi’s photographic transformation of Orientalist art. The scholars approached the artist’s work from the context of Islamic culture, European ideas of the Middle East, and contemporary photographic practice. The speakers provided a rich platform from which to understand the artist’s intentions.

A Masterpiece Wall Hanging in the Making

Three years ago, the Palestinian Heritage Foundation commissioned an innovative project to Najdeh Association of Beirut:  the creation of a unique wall hanging to be completed shortly by Palestinian embroiderers in refugee camps in Lebanon.  The objective of this project was not only to demonstrate our commitment to Palestinian art and culture, but also to generate work for Palestinian women embroiderers in the camps who desperately need financial assistance.

The work commenced over three years ago by collecting all available motifs embroidered on antique El Khalil-region dresses, scarves, pillows and other items from the Munayyer Collection.  Farah took high-resolution photographs of the motifs, which were then retouched and sent to Najdeh for incorporation into the wall hanging.

In Beirut, Najdeh artists rendered the patterns on special graph paper, and then embroidered the patterns on canvas to ensure the proper  measurements of the finished piece.  Once the accuracy of this preliminary work was approved, the final embroidery was initiated on linen fabric. 

For the past two years, four refugee women, Lina Abdullah, Rasmieh Abu Salem, Fatima Abu Salim, and Ghada Masrie (photographed below) residents of Miyyeh-w-Miyyeh and Ein el Hilweh refugee camps near Sidon in south Lebanon, have worked arduously to complete this stunning masterpiece.  The wall hanging is 180 cm wide and 250 cm long embroidered with DMC cotton thread on off-white linen fabric with crochet colorful tassels running down both sides.

PHF Participates in Cross-Cultural Arts Festival at WP University 

From March 23 through 28, William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ, hosted “The Cross-Cultural Arts Festival–Middle East,” celebrating the wide range of cultures among countries in the Middle East.

The Festival served as an example of the University’s mission to encourage diversity, community outreach, and multiculturalism, by highlighting the impact of  fine arts, music, and film in facilitating cross-cultural empathy and developing global connections. All events were open to the public and admission to most events was free.

The festival was developed by the University’s College of the Arts and Communication with assistance from the New Jersey Arab-American Heritage Commission, the New Jersey-Israel Commission, the City of Paterson, and the Muna and Basem Hishmeh Foundation.

An exhibition, “Bridal Head Scarves of the Arab World,” from the collection of Farah and Hanan Munayyer and presented by Mrs. Hanan Munayyer, was displayed in the University’s Shea Center from March 5 to April 10.

A highlight of the week was a musical performance by Simon Shaheen on Saturday, March 27, attended by over 300 guests. Shaheen’s performance reflected the legacy of Arabic music but also incorporated jazz and classical Western music influences.

The Festival also featured the opening of an art exhibit entitled, “One Thousand and One Nights: The Narrative Tradition in Contemporary Middle Eastern Art,” in the University Galleries in the Ben Shahn Center for the Arts. The exhibit featured the work of one of the most prominent Arab-American artists Helen Zughaib, and other multicultural artists Dahlia Elsayed, Dana Melamed, Nicky Nodjouni  and Mahmoud Farchchian.

The Festival also included an arts and crafts fair that included Arabic tile painting presented by Hanan, calligraphy by Majid Seif, and a dance performance by the Circassian Cultural Institute Dance Troupe.

Foundation Participates in St. George Teen SOYO Fashion Show

The Palestinian Heritage Foundation presented several Palestinian and Syrian traditional costumes at the Teen SOYO youth group’s fashion show evening at St. George’s Antiochian Orthodox Church in Little Falls, New Jersey, held in February 2010.  The costumes represented several regions of Palestine and Syria, the homelands of the parishioners’ parents and grandparents, and received enthusiastic applause from the more than two hundred parishioners and guests attending the show.

WAFA House Auctions Contemporary Embroidery Pillows Donated by PHF
By Nuha Matari

On Saturday, April 3rd, WAFA House held its annual fundraiser at the Brownstone House in Paterson, NJ. This year’s theme was appropriately titled “Empowering and Preserving the Family Unit”, where the clients and Wafa House supporters who further its mission were celebrated. Over 300 people from throughout the community came together to share a memorable evening and to ultimately support a worthy cause.  

A Silent auction was held followed by dinner and program. Entertainment included the poetic stylings of Gaith Adhami along with comedians Saad Sarwana and Baha Khalil. Also in attendance were prominent politicians, community leaders, local professionals, sponsors & supporters, and the families that have been assisted by the Wafa House..

Throughout the year, Wafa House extends its hands to assist families in need. Wafa House is a support center dedicated to educating and assisting victims of domestic violence. The purpose of Wafa House is to maintain a facility that will strengthen and reinforce the family unit while emphasizing the value of human life through intervention and community awareness. A variety of culturally sensitive services targeted towards, but not limited to, women of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent are offered.


Palestinian Costumes & Embroidery: A Precious Legacy

Available in VHS and DVD formats

A Review By Shira

For the review by Shira click the link below: