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The Art of Tatreez - Palestinian Embroidery

Once a traditional craft practiced by village women, Palestinian embroidery has become an important symbol of Palestinian culture & identity. A rich artistic tradition passed down through generations, it is now common in all of Palestine & among members of the diaspora.

Palestinian embroidery is also known as Tatreez. In 2021, the United Nations’ cultural agency (UNESCO) added the art of Palestinian embroidery, or tatreez in Arabic, to its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Tatreez is an ancient embroidery technique that dates back to the Canaanite era (people who lived in the Arab region, 3,000 years ago). It has been used for centuries by Palestinians - with different colours and patterns symbolising social & community status.

Palestinian embroidery is a rich artistic tradition that has been passed down by mothers to their daughter through generations. Designs vary from village to village. The main techniques used in Palestine are cross-stitch and couching stitch.

Although the Palestinian cultural landscape has changed dramatically in the last 50 years, Palestinian tatreez embroidery has remained a vibrant handicraft. For many Palestinians, it is a familiar reminder of Palestine in the days of their grandparents or great grandparents.

The inherited patterns and colors are often used to identify where either or both the wearer and maker are from. Integral to this unique and delicate craft is the understanding that tatreez represents the identity of Palestine and its people.

So each tatreez piece tells the person's story and history using nothing but thread, needle, and colour.

Here, Levantine motifs are understood as functions of matrilineal Palestinian cultural heritage, while also reflecting trade routes and textile and dye developments.

The traditional patterns used in tatreez—which are geometric in shape—also include impressions of daily surroundings indicative of a maker’s geographic location. Tatreez is a form of collective memory making.

Cross-stitch, 'fallahi (farmers’)’ embroidery is the most renowned of Palestinian embroidery tecuniques. The embroidery took on its name because cross-stitch was the craft of village women, widely practiced from the south through the central region of Palestine.

Palestinian cross-stitch is kno