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Robe Thob

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Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery.

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Basic Information

Accession Number:1986M112.94
Collection:Applied Art - Costume
Date:1850 - 1920


The Southall Collection is a major collection of Palestinian Dress dating from 1900-1930. It includes garments and accessories worn by nomadic Bedouin people as well as men, women and children living in Ramallah and Bethlehem.

This robe or thob is made of a cotton and silk mixture striped in red, orange, green, yellow and black. The embroidered chest panel is made of over-lapping layers of silk material in different colours, and is sewn onto the dress. The main part of the embroidered design is in couched gilt and silk cords filled with a variety of stitches in multi-coloured silks. The whole chest panel is called the 'flower pot', and the flowing designs of flowers, leaves and other motifs are in marked contrast to the geometric cross stitch patterns of the rest of Palestine.Bethlehem and nearby Beit Jala were famous all over southern Palestine for their couched thread embroidery, and the thob malak (meaning queenly dresses), which was their wedding dress, became the fashionable wedding dress in many villages in southern Palestine by the end of the British mandate. Those who could not afford the whole dress ready made bought the embroidered panels for the chest and sides and sewed them onto dresses made of cheaper material.

Presented as part of the Southall Collection, 1985.

Further Information

Production Period:19th/20th Century
Medium:Cotton and silk, woven, couched and satin stitch embroidery. Hand stitched.
Place of Origin:Bethlehem, Palestine


Width:144 cm