(MENAFN- The Peninsula) The Peninsula
Doha: Listening to stories since she was a child fuelled her imagination which helped weave an image of Palestine in her mind. She fell in love with Palestinian embroidery through which she could read the history of her dear country. So, she wondered if stories could be written using thread, then why not create something that can be heard as well?
Ever longing for her roots, Naima Al Majdobah, a graduate at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) – a Qatar Foundation (QF) partner university – embarked on an honors thesis project that allows people to hear the art of Palestinian embroidery as we see it. She used various patterns of embroidery from different regions in Palestine, each with its own history and meaning, to create unique musical notes.
“I wanted to use my passion towards my country to create something special for my honors project. I wanted to tell the world about the beauty of Palestine, about its rich history and culture that is not emphasized enough in the media.
“When people hear Palestine, they immediately think of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and thoughts turn to news stories about war and the struggle. What is often lost in this narrative are the unique crafts, aesthetic beauty and deep traditions that create the culture of Palestine.
“When I joined a class called Sonic Explorations, to study sound composition and how to put it together, along with my passion for the Palestinian traditional Thobes, I decided to dive into the history of Palestinian embroidery. And my father helped me connect with many women from Palestine and Jordan, and interview them about the origins of each pattern and what it reflects culturally.
“Then I developed a library of patterns, composed by redrawing embroidery stitch by stitch into the Ableton Live application which I discovered during my class. The application transforms visual patterns into audio files played on a loop several times with slight changes to the instrument combination using automated cycles. Due to their unique shapes, each pattern was able to be distinguished from others by subtle differences, giving it its unique melody and impression,” said Al Majdobah.
Al Majdobah also wrote a book under the same name of her project titled“The Sound of Thread”, where she gathered all of the information she collected from books she read and interviews she conducted with women who are passing the craft of embroidery through generations, and she linked each pattern to its hometown in Palestine and explained their historical and cultural backgrounds.
“With everything nowadays being colonized and getting appropriated, through my project I aspire and look to preserve Palestinian culture. For example, you can find these patterns on Nike shoes, or people wear them as shirts or hang them on a frame on a wall, but no one knows these are in fact Palestinian art, except a few. And while it is okay to be used here and there, I want to emphasize their origin.
“I also want to educate our generation. This craft used to get passed down from grandmother to mother to daughter, and because of technology and social media, people are not keen on learning as before. So, I hope this project can help keep it alive”.
Al Majdobah expanded her project after her honors. She learned the craft herself and hopes she can pass it on to her children and grandchildren. She also conducted workshops about her project for her colleagues, seniors, and sophomores and juniors in the Graphic Design stream. And she is now currently translating the book which she hopes will become a reference about Palestinian embroidery.
“I wanted to create something tangible that people can keep, and be able to relate it to sound, because the patches of patterns are very nice when you look at them, but there's a sound behind them that no one knows. And I believe bringing sound and sight together creates an interesting experience that carries thousands of untold tales about the history of Palestine.
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