Palestian Embroidery, £10.99
Length: 135.000 cm
Collected by Shelagh Weir for The British Museum
Africa, Oceania, Americas
From Beit Dajan, Palestine, AD 1920s
This coat dress (jillayeh) was worn by Beit Dajan brides during the 'going to the well' celebration, the final ritual of the wedding week. On this occasion, the bride made her first appearance in public as a married woman. She left her husband's house and walked to the village well in a joyful procession of women, all clothed in their most beautiful costumes and jewellery. There the bride presented the guardian of the well with a tray of sweets, which was said to ensure the good fortune of her new home, and ceremonially filled her pitcher with water.
This ceremony announced the transformation of the bride's status from a single to a married person, and from girlhood to womanhood. Costumes were centrally important symbolic components of village wedding ceremonies throughout Palestine.
S. Weir, Palestinian costume (London, The British Museum Press, 1989)