by Widad Kawar - £32.50 Rimal Publications (2010)
paperback ISBN 13: 9789963610419 | ISBN 10: 9963610412
This book is a record of the 50 years Widad Kamel Kawar spent researching, collecting and preserving part of the heritage of Palestine. This endeavour evolved into the Widad Kawar Collection, the largest to date of Palestinian traditional dress and accessories, comprising more than 3,000 items.
In the following chapters Kawar presents the story of how the collection evolved and she introduces the life stories of the women who produced the beautiful costumes it contains. For her, each item calls to mind an individual or a place: a wife, a mother, a daughter, a family, a house, a village, a town, a field, a market. Each item was worn on special occasions, happy and sad, that marked the owner’s life. Much of Widad Kawar’s knowledge stems from the personal narratives of these women whose embroidery and dress-making skills she so admires.
Threads of Identity is a history of Palestinian women told through aspects of popular heritage, focusing on traditional dresses but also including textiles and rug weaving, rural and urban customs, jewellery, cuisine, and festivities. The interviews with women who lived through the traumas and changes of the 20th century are a contribution to oral history, augmenting standard historical accounts. While most writing about the Middle East concentrates on politics, her book focuses on the dignity of ordinary people, and women in particular, bridging the gap between the major events of history and everyday life. With this book Widad Kamel Kawar pays homage to Palestinian women.
(Price & availability last checked: March 2019)