Sovereign threads.

Author:McDonnell Twair, Pat
Position::Sovereign Threads: A History of Palestinian Embroidery, exhibition, Los Angeles

FOR MORE THAN half a century, Israel has denied the narrative of the Palestinian people, their millennial attachment to the land of Canaan/Palestine, the cultural depth of their society and even their humanity.

Now, an exhibition in Los Angeles, Sovereign Threads: A History of Palestinian Embroidery, validates the unique Palestinian identity through the needlework patterns produced by its women over countless generations.

More than 150 pieces from the most extensive collection of Palestinian embroidery in the US will be on view until 8 October at the city's Craft and Folk Art Museum. Exquisite examples of regional Palestinian ceremonial dresses, shawls, scarves and embroidered pieces are on loan from Hanan and Farah Munayyer, founders of the Palestinian Heritage Foundation.

The Munayyers, both born in Palestine in the 1940s, have a mission to educate westerners about Palestinian culture, through its millennium-old tradition of needlework which thrives to this day.

The couple live in New Jersey where they have assembled more than 1,500 museum-class works of Palestinian embroidery. Professionally, the Munayyers are pharmaceutical research scientists who, over the years, when they vacationed in Palestine, purchased traditional dresses of the Jerusalem area. However, they did not become serious collectors until 1987, when they learned a collection of about 100 embroidered works--including 67 dresses--was about to go on the market.

Rather than see the pieces sold separately, the Munayyers mortgaged their home in order to buy the entire assemblage.

Three years later, they acquired the collection of Rollah Foley, who travelled to Palestine in 1938 to teach at the Friends' School in Ramallah. During his stay in the area he collected more than 500 pieces of embroidery, which he systematically catalogued according to village and date of origin.

Hanan Munayyer began researching archaeological and historical tomes to document the origins of Palestinian garments and embroidery. After founding the Palestinian Heritage Foundation in 1992, she and her husband went on to produce a video on Palestinian regional costumes and embroidery.

Circumstances leading to the inauguration of the Los Angeles exhibition began in February 2005 when Craft and Folk Art Museum director, Maryna Hrushetska, visited the Venice Beach home of Lebanese-American artist Huguette Caland.

Hrushetska whose ancestral roots lie in Ukraine. notice the beautifully embroidered pillowa in...

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