“In the past when a guy likes a girl he just had to look at her dress to know
from which village she is then he looks at that area to find her”.
Women’s traditional costume in Palestine is ‘the thoub’, a long dress
with cross-stitch and other designs usually representative of a particular region of the country.
Men wear ‘demaiah’, a similar long dress but without the stitching, and the
‘Kufiah or Hata’, a headdress made of cloth in black and white, or in white alone).
Palestinian embroidery can be divided into four categories – ritual, technical, geographic, and structural.
It must be noted, however, that the entire tradition of embroidery in Palestine has revolved around preparations
for bridal trousseaus, given that wedding ceremonies are considered to be the most important occasion in the life
of the Palestinian family. Normally, wedding gear would begin to be assembled several years before the wedding day.
It used to be a collective effort that involved the bride, her relatives, and sometimes her neighbors. Designs and color distribution would be determined by older women who have more expertise and a better understanding of the significance of each motif.
Traditional Palestinian dress is seen less and less nowadays, especially in the towns.
It is more common in the countryside and amongst the older generation.
The origins of Palestinians are complex and diverse. The region was not originally Arab — its Arabization was a consequence of the inclusion of Palestine within the rapidly expanding Arab Empire won by Arabian tribes and their local allies in the first millennium, most significantly during the Islamic conquest of Syria in the 7th century. Palestine, then a Hellenized region controlled by the Byzantine empire, with a large Christian population, came under the political and cultural influence of Arabic-speaking Muslim dynasties, including the Kurdish Ayyubids.
From the conquest down to the 11th century, half of the world’s Christians lived under the new Muslim order and there was no attempt for that period to convert them. Over time, nonetheless, much of the existing population of Palestine was Arabized and gradually converted to Islam. Arab populations had existed in Palestine prior to the conquest, and some of these local Arab tribes and Bedouin fought as allies of Byzantium in resisting the invasion, which the archaeological evidence indicates was a ‘peaceful conquest’, and the newcomers were allowed to settle in the old urban areas. Theories of population decline compensated by the importation of foreign populations are not confirmed by the archaeological record. Like other “Arabized” Arab nations the Arab identity of Palestinians, largely based on linguistic and cultural affiliation, is independent of the existence of any actual Arabian origins. The Palestinian population has grown dramatically. For several centuries during the Ottoman period the population in Palestine declined and fluctuated between 150,000 and 250,000 inhabitants, and it was only in the 19th century that a rapid population growth began to occur.