Women and Clothing

Women of Bethlehem

Many of the towns and even villages of Palestine have peculiar female costumes . . . . The headdress of the Bethlehemite lady is a stiff flat-crowned brimless hat, from three to five inches high in front, and longer at the back; it is generally almost covered with rows of gold or silver coins, and from each side of it a string of larger coins is suspended. This headdress is sufficiently firm to support the large white linen veil, which should be folded neatly over it so as to hide all but the lower row of coins which rests on the forehead. The veil is generally about two yards long and not quite a yard wide, and is often embroidered at the ends with coloured silk. It falls in graceful folds upon the shoulders and down the back, and is drawn partly across the face in the presence of Moslems or strangers. The principal garment, and often the only one, is a long blue or striped gown, girdled at the waist, with very wide and long pointed sleeves. The front of this gown above the waist is always more or less ornamented with embroidery or appliqué work of red, yellow, and green cloth. (Source: Picturesque Palestine, vol. 1, pp. 134-35.)

Fellahah in Holiday Attire

During my last visit to Nazareth, while wandering through streets and lanes, among gardens, by the fountain, and over the neighbouring hills, I saw and talked with great numbers of the people. They are getting more and more accustomed to Western travellers, and to English and German residents, so that the women and girls, even Moslems, are not by any means so careful to conceal their faces, or their dresses and ornaments, as they were a quarter of a century ago; more especially is this the case when they happen to be attractive in person, or arrayed in holiday attire. On the hillsides and by the fountain one frequently sees females, whose stately mien, picturesque costume, and profusion of quaint ornaments-tiaras of coins, necklets, bracelets, anklets, and girdles of finely-wrought gold and silver-are such as would delight the eye of an artist. The colours, too, are rich and beautifully blended. (Source: Through Samaria to Galilee and the Jordan, p. 260.)

Egyptian Music-Girl, Joppa

Dr. Wilson, in his Lands of the Bible, calls attention to the peculiar head-dress of the women of this district [of Jenin], and thinks it illustrates the words of Solomon, 'Thy cheeks are comely with rows [of jewels], thy neck with chains [of gold].' Strings of gold coin hang down from a sort of tiara upon the cheeks, like the tie of a helmet, and a similar ornament is worn round the neck. A colony of Egyptians was settled in this neighbourhood about half a century ago, and as it resembles the head-dress of the fellaheen of Egypt it may have been derived from them, but it is probably much older. (Source: Those Holy Fields, p. 169.)

See Weddings, Houses, Women and Work, or Woman at the Well

At BiblePlaces, see John 4