British Museum collections, £12.99
Length: 133.000 cm
Gift of the Jerusalem and the East Mission
AOA Ethno 1967.As2.11
Africa, Oceania, Americas
From the Bethlehem area, modern Palestinian Authority, late 19th - early 20th century AD
This is an extremely fine example of the distinctive dress of the Bethlehem area of Palestine, known as the 'royal' dress (thob malak or malakah).
Bethlehem and neighbouring villages were famous for the technique of embroidery called 'couching', in which silver, gold and silk cord were twisted into elaborate floral and curved patterns. The most densely couched parts of Bethlehem-area dresses were the chest panels. This style of embroidery was influenced by the ornate church vestments and furnishings which women saw in local Christian churches, and by the braid decoration on the uniforms of Ottoman and British officials and soldiers.
S. Weir and S. Shahid, Palestinian embroidery (London, The British Museum Press, 1989)
S. Weir, Palestinian costume (London, The British Museum Press, 1989)