Her dress collection has traveled to museums in Germany, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and other parts of the world, but Widad Kawar never imagined that her project would go this far. Her idea was simply to conserve all these historical fabrics through wars and migrations.
Widad grew up in Bethlehem and then moved to Ramallah, drawing her inspiration from those two cities that were the heart of Palestinian textiles. After years of collection, she recently established Tiraz, a home for the largest collection of Arab dress, containing over 3,000 costumes and weavings from the 19th and 20th centuries. Her dream now is to develop the center and keep the traditions of embroidery alive.
Sibba Einarsdottir, anthropologist and curator of the Women’s Museum in Denmark, has known Widad since the early 1990s and believes her collection is the most important one not only of Jordanian and Palestinian embroidery but of textiles from the entire Arab world. What makes it more significant is the fact that Widad has conducted interviews and otherwise documented where the dresses come from, what year they were made, and who wore them.
“These costumes belong to history, and to each and every one of us,” Sibba affirms. “It’s a very important piece of cultural history, not only for the Arab world, but for everyone. Clothes tell a story and highlight women’s lives.”
For more info – tirazcentre.org/