[Documentation of the British Museum’s Palestine Textile Collection: A Knowledge Exchange Fellowship]
By OmarJoseph Nasser-Khoury
For this blogpost I have decided to focus on one type of surface embellishment embroidery Couching (tahrir, shughul talhami) that I came across whilst working on the British Museum textile collections from Palestine. Couching is the second most prevalent decorative surface work found throughout Palestine. The technique was best developed and used in the Bethlehem and Beit Jala area, especially in the late 19th and early 20th century. It is often thought that the technique was probably inspired and developed from Ottoman couching embroidery (see Weir, 1989: 127; Kawar & Nasir, 1992: 15; Kawar, 2011: 139). In the south, in the Jerusalem and Bethlehem area the couching embroidery was done on silk taffeta inserts that were usually added to the dress. Couching later spread to the southern coast, namely in Beit Dajan, Deir Terif and neighbouring villages who started to use this type of embroidery on their dress from the early 20th century. Couching embroidery was produced both personally and commercially in varying degrees of quality and refinement. Low quality or imitation couching was often referred to as “rasheq.” (see Kawar Vogelsan-Eastwood, 2016: 366; Weir: 1989: 127)
Kawar, W. K., & Vogelsang-Eastwood, G. (2016). “Palestinian Embroidery and Clothing” in Encyclopaedia of Embroidery from the Arab World. Edited by Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood. London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 354 -396.
Kawar, W. K. (2011). Threads of Identity: Preserving Palestinian Costume and Heritage. Nicosia: Rimal Publications.
Kawar, W. K., & Nasir, T. T. (1992). Palestinian Embroidery: Traditional “Fallahi” Cross-Stitch. Munich: State Museum of Ethnography.
Weir, S. (1989). Palestinian Costume. London: The British Museum Publications Ltd.
All images in this blogpost are taken by OmarJoseph Nasser-Khoury. All textiles shown are from the British Museum Palestine Textile Collection.