Palestinian Heritage Foundation 

Newsletter of the Palestinian Heritage Foundation
  Volume 14,  No. 2                        December, 2008    

نشرة مؤسسة التراث الفلسطيني

Lectures at the New Jersey State Museum

On Thursday, December 11, and December 18, 2008 Hanan Munayyer was a guest speaker at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton, New Jersey as part of the museum’s cultural activities series to celebrate the exhibition Culture in Context: A Tapestry of Expression.

This lecture was part of a one day event presented to school children and museum visitors that included history of traditional Middle Eastern embroidery and crafts. Utilizing a selection of antique embroidered costumes, headdresses and jewelry, Hanan demonstrated to the audience how traditional textile arts of the Middle East have changed relatively little over the millennia.

PHF to Participate in “Arabesque” at Kennedy Center in DC

This February, the Kennedy Center in Washington DC in cooperation with the League of Arab States presents ARABESQUE: Arts of the Arab World, an international festival showcasing the varied cultures of the 22 Arab nations that represent the Arab World. From the Arabian Gulf to the Levant to North Africa – this region of the world is the birthplace of human civilization and features extraordinary diversity in geography, traditions, landscape, religion and contemporary aesthetics.

The three-week festival (February 23 – March 15) brings together artists, many of whom are making their US debut, in performances of music, dance, and theater, as well as exhibitions featuring art installations, fashion, cuisine, a souk (market), and much more.

The theme for the costume exhibit is traditional bridal costumes from the Arab World.

The Palestinian Heritage Foundation will participate in this upcoming Arabesque festival by loaning the Kennedy Center representative costumes from Palestine, Syria, and Jordan from the Munayyer collection, and costumes from Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and North Africa from the collection of the dear late Dr. Hala Salaam Maksood, previously donated to PHF by Hala’s family.  Other collectors and embassies will be presenting costumes from other Arab countries.

For further information relative to this event, visit

Antiochian Heritage Museum to host Munayyer Syrian Collection

Coming April 2009 the Antiochian Heritage Museum in Bolivar, PA will host the Munayyer Collection of Syrian costumes and crafts. This exhibit, the first of its kind in the USA, will include embroidered costumes representing many regions of Syria including accessories like jackets, vests, veils, headdresses and coats. Brass items and furniture inlaid with mother-of-pearl will also be on display.

Previously in 2005, the Antiochian Heritage Museum hosted “Threads of Tradition: Palestinian Traditional Costumes” for six months that were eventually extended to 12 months due to popular demand.

Following that, the Foundation had also exhibited at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles during the Summer of 2006, the National American Arab Museum in Detroit, Michigan during the Summer of 2007, and late November 2007 at the United Nations in New York in celebration of the Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Since last summer, selections from the Munayyer Palestinian collection have been part of the exhibit Culture in Context: A Tapestry of Expression presented by the New Jersey State Museum. The exhibit consist of various sections each representing a different ethnic group residing in New Jersey. Culture in Context is ongoing at this time.

Stefni Agin, PHF Friend and Supporter had Passed Away

It was in 2006 when we met Stefni Agin at the exhibit Threads of Tradition: Palestinian Traditional Costumes hosted by the Antiochian Heritage Museum in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.  Stefni’s third trip to the exhibit during the twelve months display period came because of her love to the art of embroidery in general and Balkan and Palestinian embroidery in particular. This time though she came with two of her friends who flew in from Boston to see the exhibit. Along with her Stefni brought some of her Palestinian costume collection seeking our help in identifying the origin and region of these items.  

  19th century Bethlehem dress  

Two of these dresses stood out and were of interest to us and to the work of the Foundation, and specially, for the research that Hanan is conducting relative to the history of textile arts in Palestine and the Middle East. Both of the dresses were from Bethlehem, one from the early twentieth century and the other from the late nineteenth century.

After meeting Stefni, we wrote to ask if she would like to either exchange one of the dresses against an embroidered item from our collection, or sell the dress. It didn’t take long before she expressed her willingness to exchange one of the  dresses for the research being done to promote this art, but wanted to keep the second Bethlehem dress with its complementary shatweh headdress, because of her love for the memories they carry. We very much appreciated her feelings and attachment to the dress and headdress as part of her Palestinian collection. Stefni remained a friend and supporter, and always congratulated us on the work being done as communicated to her via PHF Newsletters.

Early 20th century Bethlehem dress and headdress

Last July we received an unexpected telephone call from Stefni. She called to inform us that she was ill and that she would like to donate the second Bethlehem dress and accompanying headdress to the Foundation. Sadly, Stefni Anne Winter Agin passed away on September 4, 2008 after a seventeen months battle with cancer. On Monday, September 22, 2008 we received a call from Jerry Agin, Stefni’s husband, informing us of his intention to fulfill Stefni’s wishes of donating the Bethlehem dress and shatweh to the Foundation.

Stefni was born in Long Beach, CA, in 1946. She earned a B. A. from San Jose State University, and studied Folk Arts  at Duquesne University. From 1987 until 1998, she was employed by the University of Pittsburgh as a secretary in the Intelligent Systems Program. For the past 10 years or so, she has been active as a volunteer tutor of English as a Second Language through the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council.

The Foundation would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Jerry Agin for this generosity, and promise that Stefni’s name will always accompanythese items anytime they are on display. For all those who were lucky to have known Stefni, and they are many, all will miss her. God rest her soul. 
                                                                                                                                                                         Foundation acquired four of Stefni’s Palestinian Costumes

The Palestinian Heritage Foundation has bought four dresses from the collection of Stefni Aging . This acquisition came as part of an effort on behalf of the Foundation to try to  retrieve as many old Palestinian dresses as possible, and concentrate them in one location for future documentation and research. These garments are part of a contemporary collection of Palestinian dresses that Stefni had collected along with two Bethlehem dresses and headdress that she donated to the Foundation earlier (see images in above article).

Stefni was a collector who owned approximately 30 complete folk costumes from around the world, principally from the Balkan region of Europe. She also had an extensive collection of books about costumes and folk music.

Sandra Shatila donates Syrian Dress to the Munayyer Collection

Sandra Shatila of Montreal, Canada, has recently donated a Syrian embroidered garment to the Munayyers. We have met Sandra for the first time in Brockton, MA. in the early 1990s while visiting the exhibit “Threads of Tradition: Palestinian Traditional Costumes” mounted by PHF at the Fuller Museum in Brockton. In recognition of our work on behalf of the Palestinian people and heritage, Sandra decided to part with two garments of her collection to be donated to the Munayyer Collection. One of these items was an old dress from the village of Asdud and the other an old silk coat from the Galilee region.

The Asdud dress was recently on display at the United Nations in New York during the exhibit “Palestine: A Continuing Legacy” celebrated annually on November 29, by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

PHF Mail……….


I am thrilled to find this site. I have been interested in the handwork from Palestine since 1982 when I married a man from Nablus region. Thanks for helping to keep this most cherished part of this wonderful people alive.

Renee Manna


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: