Palestinian cross-stitch

This table runner (it’s too big to be a scarf!) is a traditional Palestinian cross-stitch design from Dr. Shirazi’s collection (see bottom of post for details on the collection). You can get an idea of the scale from my notebook and pen visible in the top left. I also think I may have photographed it upside-down (oops) because some of the motifs look like some kind of plant (corn? wheat? whatever they raise over there), and they look like they grow the other direction. Sorry about that, y’all!

Cross-stitch seems to be a traditional Palestinian form of embroidery – Google Image search produces a whole lot of beautiful works. Most of the color schemes are based around red, and the patterns tend to be geometric. I will have to look into why red is so common, because it seems to be a really standard color base. It’s hard to photograph the full piece since it’s so large. Here is a closeup of part of it:

And next is an even closer photo where you can see the individual stitches. This took absolutely incredible amount of work. Honestly, even one of the rows from this design would take a lot of time!

The back is very neatly done too.

This is one of a special series of posts based on the embroidery collection of Dr. Faegheh Shirazi, from The University of Texas at Austin. Her research is on “textiles, dress, gender identity discourse, and material culture in the Middle East; the meanings of veiling; rituals and rites of passage as they relate to material culture.” Over the years she has collected a number of examples of embroidery from around the world, and has very kindly allowed me to photograph them for my blog.

This entry was posted in Cross-stitch, Embroidery around the world, Shirazi and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Palestinian cross-stitch

  1. Barbara says:

    It probably is a scarf, not a table runner. It’s most likely part of a traditional woman’s costume that would have a very long scarf over the head and flowing.

  2. Pingback: Learn about Palestinian embroidery · Needlework News |

  3. Najat says:

    Hannah, thank you for sharing this. I’m Palestinian and an avid cross-stitcher. I was very happy to see this blog post. As for this piece, it is definitely not a head scarf. In the traditional Palestinian costume, the dress is cross stitched but head scarves are always made of white chiffon-y material. This would be too heavy to put on the head! Palestinians cross-stitch all sorts of things and if I had to guess what this is, I would guess it’s a table rug, or a wall decoration piece.

  4. Moi says:

    Palestinian Embroidery Motifs: A Treasury of Stitches 1850-1950, is a great book on the subject.

  5. Pingback: Palestinian cross-stitch | Needlework News |

  6. Julie says:

    You have very well informed readers! Thank you for the post and pics–just gorgeous!

  7. Camilla Lupton says:

    I want to make a Palestinian cross stitch wall hanging, can anyone recommend any good books with patterns that I could buy from the UK? Thanks!

    • Hannah says:

      I’ve acquired a copy of Palestinian Embroidery Motifs: A Treasury of Stitches 1850-1950, and it is indeed a good book. There are a ton of close up photos of Palestinian cross-stitch, and many many charted motifs and borders. They are really nice, too. You would have to choose a selection of motifs to make up your wall-hanging – it doesn’t have step-by-step projects – but it has more than enough to choose from. Perhaps I’ll review it on the blog sometime soon. I don’t know if you can find it in the UK or not.

    • Hannah says:

      let me know how it goes! I’d love to see it!

  8. Pingback: Book review: Palestinian Embroidery Motifs | enbrouderie

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