Tatreez: Intricate expressions of the Palestinian experience

Guest contribution by Wedad Yassin

Tatreez, or traditional Palestinian embroidery, is significant to me not just because it is evidence of our culture and existence but also because each intricate cross-stitch reminds me of how much we really have to say.

Whenever I walk through the streets of Palestine, whenever I go to Palestinian weddings, I find elderly women wearing their hand-sewn thwab, their life stories intricately threaded onto their bodies. They always walk with such pride and confidence in their thwab. But that’s expected. After all, to ‘read’ a thobe is to read a lifetime of blood, sweat, and tears. Years spent climbing the same hills from one village to the next, decades spent tilling the soil under the sun — whatever the story is, whatever the experience is, it belongs to her, displayed in bold colors for the world to see.

When I was taking these photographs, one of the ladies jokingly asked if I was secretly trying to replicate her tatreez pattern.

Leish biddik itkalldi tatreezi?

I laughed and for a split second thought about hugging her. It’s crucial to acknowledge that these hand-sewn thwab are like fingerprints. A pattern can be copied, but it could never carry the same significance that it does for the woman who stitched the original pattern with nothing more than a personal story to guide her hands.

Wedad Yassin

Wedad Yassin is a recent graduate whose primary interest is in global studies with a focus on diaspora, identity, and culture studies. She is an aspiring professor.


There are 4 comments

  1. Vera Rizk

    Thank you Wedad for reminding me of happy times with my beautiful mother, may she rest in peace. She taught me Tatreez as a young woman. We shared so many happy evenings sewing together and bonding. I will never forget those moments.

    1. Once Upon A Holy Land

      ❤ thank you for your comment and I hope you continue to share this beautiful talent with your children, nieces, nephews, etc. to continue the tradition! God bless you and your mother, May she rest in peace

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