The Language of Palestinian Tatreez Embroidery

For generations, Palestinian women have gathered together with their daughters to work collectively on embroidery projects, bonding with one another over a cup of tea. Over time, and after the exodus of Palestinians from Palestine in 1948, embroidery has become an endangered art that has been subjected to decades of cultural appropriation. But embroidery represents more than just a village craft of old Palestine — it became the primary form of communication for Palestinian women who used needlework as a way to express their opinions, share their stories, and document their protest of occupation, war and violence.

Wafa Ghnaim will be presenting designs from her self-published digital book, Tatreez & Tea: Embroidery and Storytelling in the Palestinian Diaspora, which attempts to preserve the craft of embroidery as well as the art of storytelling that is encapsulated in each traditional Palestinian motif. 

Palestinian tatreez embroidery is a centuries-old folk art, traditionally passed from mother to daughter over a cup of tea. Wafa and her sisters grew up learning the time-honored tradition of embroidery from their mother, Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim. Researching over thirty years worth of oral history interviews, recorded demonstrations, lectures, journal entries and photographs from her and her mother, Wafa documents, decodes and preserves the patterns, meanings and oral history of over a dozen traditional Palestinian embroidery designs passed on for generations between women in her family.

After releasing the book in 2016, Wafa founded her nonprofit venture Tatreez & Tea, to provide additional educational resources, workshops, lectures and publications, to preserve Palestinian  embroidery, folk arts and storytelling traditions in the diaspora. 

To learn more about the book project and organization, please visit

As Wafa gears up for her move to D.C., TATTER will be hosting ongoing Introductory classes to Palestinian Embroidery on the following dates:

Dates: Sat. Dec. 1st, 12-3 pm
Palestinian Embroidery 101: Tree of Life Star on dusted aida cloth

Sun. Dec. 30th, 12- 3 stitching class, 3-5 pm lecture
Palestinian Embroidery 101: Star of Bethlehem on Star Dusted Aida Cloth
Tatreez Hafla: Palestinian Embroidery and Storytelling Farewell lecture

Sat. Jan. 5th, 3-5 pm
A New Years workshop and Embroidery 101 lecture

Location: TATTER Blue Library, 505 Carroll Street Suite 2B, Brooklyn NY 11215
Cost: Dependent on event

Our Teacher:

Wafa Ghnaim,
Palestinian Textile Artist

Wafa Ghnaim is an American born Palestinian businesswoman, writer and artist. She and her two sisters began learning Palestinian embroidery from their mother at 4 years old. Throughout her life, Wafa has traveled alongside her mother for various exhibitions, lectures and folklore festivals from Massachusetts to Oregon. Wafa was awarded a two-year apprenticeship opportunity through the Oregon Folklife Network and the University of Oregon in 1993 through 1995 with her older sister, Fida, which enabled them to assist their mother in the completion of a Palestinian dress titled “The Gardens.” “The Gardens” was displayed in the Oregon State Capitol as “the dress of a million stitches”.

Wafa is the founder of the Tatreez and Tea Project. She resides with her husband and beautiful newborn baby, in Brooklyn, NY