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Exhibition of Bethlehem dresses, jewellery draws visitors from Jordan and beyond

By Muath Freij - Jan 29,2015 - Last updated at Jan 29,2015

AMMAN — When Palestinian Maha Saca found out that an exhibition would be held in Amman showcasing the traditional dresses of her hometown, Bethlehem, through the ages, she realised she had to come to Jordan.

Saca, the founder of the Palestinian Heritage Centre in Palestine, said she worked hard to be able to arrive in Amman in time to attend the “most important exhibition of Bethlehem”. 

“Widad Kawar [the exhibition’s organiser] has a unique collection of traditional dresses,” she told The Jordan Times at the exhibition’s opening ceremony on Sunday.  

Kawar, owner of the collection and founder of the Widad Kawar Home for Arab Dress, Tiraz, where the two-month exhibition is being held, is showcasing a collection of traditional dresses and jewellery in an effort to document and revive the region’s heritage. 

Dubbed “Golden Threads of Bethlehem”, the exhibition depicts developments in the embroidery of traditional dresses from 1880 until 1948 in Bethlehem and its surrounding villages.

It not only showcases items from Palestine, but also features dresses and jewellery from Syria and Jordan as well. 

“I have many of these items stocked in boxes. From time to time, I display them for people interested in heritage. But I eventually grew tired of taking them out and putting them back in the boxes,” she told The Jordan Times. 

Kawar decided to create a venue where all these items can be permanently on display for the public to appreciate them.

“I turned my son’s house into a centre,” she said, adding that it will also be a venue to hold lectures on the culture and heritage of the region.

For Nisreen Abu Dail, the most interesting thing about the exhibition is the time Kawar spent on collecting the dresses and other items. 

“I am happy that there is now a place in Jordan that houses this kind of culture,” she noted.

Saca said showing a collection from many Palestinian villages is testament to the deep-rooted heritage of Palestine.

“This exhibition is another form of Palestinian resistance and a way to tell the world what exists in every Palestinian village and city.”

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