Palestine in America will celebrate arts, culture at annual Palipalooza
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In this quarter’s issue, we are featuring Palestinian arts and culture. We have a report on women’s empowerment through tatreez (Palestinian embroidery), and give you insight into a few of our favorite Palestinian brands that are giving back to their community. Our feature article is about the Palestinian fashion designer Rami Kashoú and the sources of inspiration for his work.
Putting together this issue on Palestinian arts and culture was fun and educational. It also made me think back to my wedding and all the cultural traditions associated with it. While reading Kashoú’s recollections of the women who first supported his craft, I thought of a particularly special traditional dress I had designed for myself—the thobe I wore to my henna party.
Whether back home or in the diaspora, Palestinian weddings are a symbol of our rich cultural practices and history. Several events lead up to the wedding. First is the tulba (engagement), followed by a henna party, in which the bride wears a thobe (traditional embroidered gown) and is adorned with henna to mark the celebration, and finally, the wedding day. The henna party was my favorite part of my wedding. That night, I was able to celebrate like a Palestinian queen dancing with friends and family to traditional music in my thobe.
The thobe my husband bought me was hand sewn in Ramallah, Palestine. The process of designing the gown began shortly after I got engaged. My mother-in-law coordinated through her sister in Turmusaya—the village my father-in-law is from. She had me take measurements and look at styles and patterns I liked. I chose a white base and red and orange tatreez (embroidery) pattern, it came with a long scarf and a headpiece.
The thobe took months to be made, and it arrived a few days before the wedding. I was nervous that the thobe would not arrive in time, due to a shipping issue. Luckily, a man traveling back to Chicago was willing to hand deliver the dress five days before the party.
Most women would pass down the knowledge of sewing tatreez onto dresses, skirts, pillow cases, and jackets down generations. Nowadays, tatreez and thobes are still worn but in more modern ways. Palestinian artists hold workshops to teach the skill art of tatreez, and authors write about the importance of its history.
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