The caftan-like shape is typical of Palestinian dresses, but the woven stripe pattern, the appliquéd areas on the shoulders, sleeves, and skirt, the densely embroidered chest square, and the color scheme clearly identify this one, shown left, as being from Bethlehem. Made in the first half of the twentieth century, most likely for a bride’s wedding day, the dress would later have been worn for special occasions, and the owner may even have passed on to her daughter the embroidered chest square, which was made separately and sewn onto the completed garment. Dresses of this design are rarely worn now. This one is part of the Goldstein Museum of Design’s extensive ethnic garment collection, which is being rehoused with NEH support.
HUMANITIES, March/April 2010, Volume 31, Number 2