“Palestinian history has been written in many forms
But the most beautiful and profound form
was written by the women of Palestine
from the north of Palestine to its south
with the needle that embroidered those dresses
that were colored by the sun”
Nasser Soumi, Palestinian Visual Artist
Tiraz is an interactive museum for an elegant and extremely rare kind of social history; a history which is tactile and visual, woven into fabric, and related though the work of feminine hands.
It has taken over fifty years of commitment and vision to build the Widad Kamel Kawar collection, as a home for one of the most significant archives of Arab costume heritage in the modern era.
Tiraz is more than a space to remember. It is a place to restore and renew, what could have become lost.
The Widad Kawar collection contains over 2000 costumes and weavings. Each piece belongs to a particular time, a particular tribe or village, with an individual story to tell.
Tiraz is a place to exhibit and combine these stories for the public in Jordan and the Middle East, as well as for cultural centres and institutions around the world. To be celebrated and understood, and collection must be seen and experienced.
Words alone cannot capture the spirit and immediacy of the embroidered patterns; the sensitivity, diversity and the richness of their forms.
Tiraz will curate, describe and explore these forms, expressed in the seams of each garment, in a way which historians and visitors from all over the world will come to appreciate, and remember.
A Living Archive
Tiraz is an uplink to memories and histories that an entire generation have never had the chance to experience, and yet are eager to rediscover. Our mission is to remember, restore and revive the vibrancy of Palestinian and Arab costume heritage in a new institutional setting which is accessible, open, and fun.
The collection is preserved in a specialised environment, to slow the passage of years and decay. A living archive is being created- based on research and oral testimony – to ensure that the collection remains fully documented for researchers in the region and world-wide.
Tiraz is not a place for what has been. It is a place for remembering and learning the value of what still exists to this day; a place where cultural forms are experienced as well as studied, and the traditional finds its place alongside the modern.
A large part of this is working with local experts and organisations to revive traditional handicrafts, by running specialised workshops on embroidery and handicraft techniques, with a focus on economic viability, creativity and mentorship.
History has been communicated in many forms; from the architecture of the pyramids, to the gold leaf of Byzantium, to photography, art and film in the modern era. It is time that costume, textile and embroidery – specifically that created in the area of the Levant over the past two centuries – became recognised as a valuable, colourful and intricate form of history in its own right.
Tiraz will work to communicate the context and importance of the Widad Kawar Collection both within the Arab World, and internationally. The work has a visceral quality, demonstrating beyond all doubt how the tribes, peoples and countries of this part of the world have long been inter-connected with each other, and with the rest of the world.
This is why Tiraz is developing an educational program on Arab textile heritage for schools, universities and the public. It is why we are commissioning research and publications on the role of traditional handicrafts and the women who created them.
Ultimately, we see the museum as an organic space for a form of culture and memory which are distinct to Arab culture, and remain universal in their human scope.