The Ramallah (Thob)

The Ramallah dress (thob) is made of white or black cotton or linen fabric called Rumi or Ruhbani, hand woven in Ramallah or imported from other regions of Palestine known for their famous textile centers. The embroidery is in cross-stitch using silk thread.

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 just few. 

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 chin.     

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. 

During 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