by Shelagh Weir
The traditional costumes of the Palestinian villagers and Bedouin are of exceptional beauty and diversity, especially the festive costumes of the women with their lavish silk embroidery and patchwork and their dramatic headdresses encrusted with coins.
This book surveys male and female fashions from the early nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth, and describes the main regional styles of costume, their materials and ornamentation, against the background of Palestinian life and culture. The emphasis throughout the book is on the social and symbolic significance of costume, and the final chapters analyze in detail the language of costume in the context of the wedding.
The book is based on extensive field research the author has conducted at intervals since 1967 among Palestinians in Israel, the Occupied Territories, and Jordan. The illustrations include studio photographs of magnificent garments in museum collections, archive photographs from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and recent photographs of costumes still made and worn.
About the Author
Shelagh Weir, former curator for Middle East Ethnography at the Museum of Mankind (British Museum), organized major exhibitions of Palestinian costumes and textiles at the museum. She is the most prominent specialist in Palestinian costumes and embroidery and the author of Palestinian Embroidery (1970); Spinning and Weaving in Palestine (1970), Palestinian Embroidery: Cross Stitch Patterns from the Traditional Costumes of the Village Women of Palestine (with Serene Husseini Shahid) (1988); and Embroidery from Palestine(2007).
“The product of over 20 years of serious research, this lavishly illustrated work discusses Palestinian textiles and men’s and women’s dress during the 30-year period of British rule prior to 1948. Weir also touches upon 19th-century and modern Palestinian costume while discussing pertinent cultural background and meaning behind changing design and styles. Particular emphasis is given to the wedding ritual and garments of Beit Dajan, a village located about 12 kilometers southeast of Jaffa. The great variety of costumes, illustrated in 200 color and 100 black-and-white photographs, and the excellent interpretive text contribute to a unique and valuable work that should be a part of most research, art, textiles, or Middle East collections.”
— Library Journal (reviewer Paula I. Nielson, Brigham Young University)