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Embroidered Dresses

The dresses (thobes) appearing in this web site are modern replicas of traditional Palestinian designs.  They were obtained, and can still be purchased, from various Palestinian embroidery centers throughout the Middle East especially from Palestinian refugee camps.  They are also available from the various town markets in Palestinian cities.  One such prominent embroidery center which has a variety of pieces and which we visited frequently is run by the Society of In'ash El-Usra located in el-Bireh.  The designs on these dresses are uniquely Palestinian and represent Palestinian identity, although they evolved over the years with influences from outsiders as well as transients through the area.  These are only a small and incomplete sample of the range of designs that exist or what is available on the market.

The embroidery on Palestinian dresses is always structured in a specific way, and when new patterns are introduced,  they are ingeniously incorporated into this structure.  The embroidery is arranged on a chest panel, on the sleeves, on the sides of the skirt, and in a rectangular panel above the hem at the back of the dress.  The chest panel is usually rectangular, although in the Gaza- district it is V-shaped.  In some areas, such as the Jaffa area and in Hebron Hills, the embroidery on the skirt is heavy and solid, and in others, such as Ramallah area north of Jerusalem, it is often lighter.  The dress back panel is always rectangular. However, it varies in size according to region and period.  While each region of Palestinian has its distinct pattern and design, modern Palestinian embroidery has mixed various designs and patterns from more than one region.

"Thobe" of Beit Dajan (Jaffa district)

Beit Dajan "thobe" is rich in embroidery; its main color is red touched with lilac and green.  It has "manajel" on the sides.  It is usually worn with a belt.

"Thobe" of Beer Sheba District

Beer Sheba "thobe" is covered with embroidery (heavily embroidered).  The color is usually red and it has "manajel" on the sides. "Saya" material is used on the shoulders.  It is usually worn with a belt.

"Thobe" from Gaza District

Gaza "thobe" differs a little from other thobes.  It has a pointed chest panel.  No belt is worn with it.

"Thobe" of Salameh (Jaffa District)

Salameh "thobe" has heavy embroidery on the front, sides and back.  The embroidery in front has a square chest panel.  The colors are green, lilac and red.  It is usually worn with a belt.


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