Egyptian Cross-Stitch

Something exciting came in the mail yesterday! My friend moved to Egypt in July, and has been having all kinds of adventures in Cairo. She knows about my blog, so she sent me a present!

The tag says it’s from a fair trade association for selling handicrafts, and this one was made by a group of North Sinai Bedouin women. The tag says “Each design and color combination holds social and/or cultural meaning” but totally fails to say what meaning that is. Just enough information to be frustratingly vague. Maybe Dr. Shirazi would know something. I will have to do some research. It does mention that the design is inspired by patterns used to decorate traditional Bedouin wedding galabeyas (a special type of traditional dress).

front of purse

back of purse

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

14 Responses to Egyptian Cross-Stitch

  1. Anita says:

    Interesting! I’d always thought cross stitch is from France,England and North America.
    I’d read somewhere that cross stitch was introduced to India by English when they ruled this part of the world.It’s still popular because of the convents here.Bedouin is a tribe right?.Could you please ask Dr.Shirazi whether this form of embroidery belonged to the Bedouin or was it introduced to them by somebody just like in India.

  2. Robin says:

    I’m always very interested to see how embroidery ideas are shared across both time and geography. When I look at this i think it has a kinship to Assisi work with the voided design areas. Thanks for posting the pictures.

    Robin in Houston

  3. Christina says:

    Cross stitch pops up all over the world in one form or another. Think of the Macedonian costumes and those from other parts of the Balkans and Greece, for example.

    Maybe the reason the explanation about the pattern wasn’t included is because it represents something that an outsider shouldn’t see. I base this on my experience of Australian Aboriginal art, in which the patterns and other imagery or iconography the artists use represent things that are sacred-secret, and should not be known about by people outside the particular group who use them. I really don’t know about the Egyptian cross stitch, but it may be something to consider.

    By the way, it is a beautiful object. Lucky you.

    • Hannah says:

      No, I think in this case the generic English-language tag for tourists just didn’t consider it important for marketing to explain.

      Yep, I’m very lucky!

  4. Pingback: Cross-stitch from Egypt · Needlework News |

  5. Rachel says:

    It’s always frustrating when the information doesn’t cover the interesting elements!

  6. Pingback: Egyptian Cross-Stitch | Needlework News |

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  8. Eman says:

    I’m Egyptian. I visited North Sinai for the first time 2 years ago as most tourism attention was for South Sinai. We are used to Sharm and Hurghada and people mostly prefer South Sinai for its diving because of the beauty of corals, fish, etc… From my first visit to North Sinai, I fall in love with the people and was fascinated by the beauty of handcraft. Women there do cross stitches on plain materials without any kind of holes at all! They are costumed at that since many many years. Young generations in North Sinai are not interested in learning from the old ladies. There they do most crafts. But the most famous are cross stitching and beading. I bought lovely handcraft from there. Here is a site about it. I am sorry it is in Arabic, but there’s lots of photos of hand cross stitch, just click on a photo.
    I will check for more photos and will try to find an site written in English.
    Best regards and thanks.

  9. Eman says:

    Bedouin women are keen to show their social situation statues by the colors used in the embroidery and garment they wear. For example blue dress is worn by an old lady, or a divorced.The married woman dress is embroidered in red, while the little girl wears dresses embroidered in light colors

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