Everything in Um Ouda al-Najjar's house in the Gaza Strip celebrates Palestinian heritage. Handmade and embroidered works of art are in every corner of the house telling stories of Palestinian love, patience and resilience.
For 50 years Um Ouda, who is in her seventies, has practiced traditional embroidery, and later she taught her daughter Suad everything about the profession. Suad, in her turn, added a touch of modernity to her work.
Um Ouda's intricate work uses bright colors and designs and is sewn onto purses, thobes, shawls, sheets, vests and wallets sold at reasonable prices."I'm the only one in my refugee camp who has practiced traditional embroidery for decades," Um Ouda said.
One of the pieces she is proud of is an embroidered work of al-Aqsa Mosque which she transferred from a painting to a piece of cloth. It took her days, but it was worth it. On why it is one of her favorites, Um Ouda said that she made it in response to a woman who underestimated her embroidery skills.
Um Ouda's work is mainly meant to represent Palestinian heritage. She even still owns an embroidered dress (thobe) from her hometown Qatra from which Palestinians were expelled by Israeli forces in 1948.
In the past, embroidery was important for the girls getting married as the bride takes at least 10 embroidered dresses and other pieces of clothes to her new home, Um Ouda recalled.Um Ouda enjoys her work which she sees as a means to preserve Palestinian heritage, have a good time and make a living.
Influenced by Um Ouda, her mother, and her art, Suad, 48, started to do embroidery when she was 17 years old.
Over the years, Suad has produced many handicrafts using traditional Palestinian embroidery, and some pieces have been distinguished by touches of modernity.Suad has a Facebook page where she sells her works and receives requests from thousands of customers.
Suad has taken part in several exhibitions and events and trained girls and women in the art of embroidery and other related skills in Gaza.