Ever since I finished my last book on Palestinian embroidery motifs I am more than ever curious and wonder when those brilliant embroidered dresses first emerged. From where did the motifs come, where is their origin? Surely those dresses did not arrive in their full beauty and distinctly embroidered motifs for each area over night.
There is imagination and many guesses of origins but I have tried to keep to facts as much as possible. I would think that the Palestinian women were bound to the traditional motifs used by the family, village and area. What love and imagination must have been transformed into such extraordinary embroidered dresses. When reading Jennifer Scare's book on Women's Costume of the Near and Middle East, and compares the much documented dresses of Turkey one wonders why there is nearly nothing when it comes to the Palestinian areas. Istanbul of course was an important Ambassadorial post. Ambassadors received beautiful robes as gifts.
The first British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire arrived in 1583; whereas the first British Consul in Jerusalem only dates back to 1838. The first mention of a Bethlehem dress appears to be in 1846 by James Finn, British Consul in Jerusalem. Travellers and pilgrims were mostly interested in biblical places. The Easter service at the Holy Sepulchre is often mentioned and in great detail.