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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Traditional Palestinian Robe Is New Political Icon

Lifestyle & Health

7Dnews London

Tue, 12 Feb 2019 11:10 GMT

The traditional brightly embroidered gown worn by Palestinian women, known as the "thobe", has recently become a pop political icon expressing Palestinian identity and nationalism, according to AP.

Today, the "thobe" is even competing with the classic chequered black and white keffiyeh scarf- always associated with young stone-throwing Palestinian men protesting Israel's occupation. 

The robe, adorned with fine hand-stitched embroidery, takes months of elaborate work. Some thobes fetch thousands of dollars 

Last month, Rashida Tlaib proudly wore her mother's thobe to her historic swearing-in as the first female Palestinian American member of Congress, inspiring masses of women around the world, especially in the Palestinian territories, to post photos of themselves in their ancestral robes. 

"This is what I'm wearing when I'm sworn into Congress." Tlaib said on Twitter posting a photo of her hand-embroidered thobe. 

The Palestinian thobe traces its history to the early 19th century, when embroidery was confined to the villages. 

The designs varied from village to village, with special three-dimensional stitching for the upper class of Bethlehem, big pockets for the nomadic Bedouin women, orange branch motifs for the orchard-famous city of Jaffa, said Maha Saca, director of the Palestinian Heritage Centre in Bethlehem. 

Thobe patterns also expressed women's different social positions: red for brides, blue for widows, blue with multi-coloured stitches for widows considering remarriage. 

"The historic thobe conjures an ideal of pure and untouched Palestine, before the occupation," said Rachel Dedman, curator of a recent exhibit at the Palestinian Museum focused on the evolution of Palestinian embroidery. 

"It's more explicitly tied to history and heritage than politics. That's what makes it a brilliant symbol." 


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