Why Tatreez? A Personal Reflection
Tatreez is a centuries-old craft iconic of Palestinian heritage, but that is not solely why I practice tatreez. Tatreez is a medium and a message - it is a language all on its own. In my own practice, the motifs and patterns of tatreez gave words and feelings to emotions I couldn’t process otherwise at different times of my life.
It is a craft and a source of healing for many practitioners. The beauty and solace provided by its repetitive motions especially during the late hours of the night have comforted my own soul for many years, and I can only assume this comfort was felt by our Palestinian ancestors as well.
As Palestinians in the modern context of diaspora and exile globally, we inherit multigenerational trauma that can surface in many facets of our lives. I blame the Nakba and the ongoing impact of colonialism and capitalism for these ailments.
I am constantly angry and sad for what has happened to generations of Palestinians as a result of the Nakba: the ongoing experience of statelessness; our culture, language, traditions, and land ripped away; generations of mental health issues plaguing families; and the constant feeling of ‘ghorba’ (الغربة) – an eternal burden that weighs heavily on Palestinian souls from refugee camps, to privileged forms of exile like my own in the United States, to the internally displaced Palestinians inside the borders of Historic Palestine.
Tatreez cannot possibly heal all of the wounds of multigenerational trauma that Palestinians inherit upon birth, but it is an activity in which I choose to engage daily in an ongoing attempt to restore what has been taken from Palestine, keep our homeland alive within us, and to heal personally.
This artwork provides me with safety, healing, and connection to my ancestors and a homeland I've only known as a temporary visitor. It is my language of choice through which I can communicate my own vision for the liberation of Palestine and of all people. It has been my path toward forgiveness, restoring hope, and reimagining the individual I am and how I contribute to each space I enter.
In these ways, tatreez has been a personal gift I inherited from my ancestors - a tool I'll hold onto dearly and pass on in any way I can. Mainstream culture appropriates, steals, misaligns, and renames our practices in intentional ways, forcing assimilation upon us and distancing us from our rightful homeland. Tatreez is therefore an act of resistance: a celebration of Palestinian modern identity with all of its complexities wrapped up in each stitch.
I truly believe that these therapeutic and celebratory aspects of tatreez should be shared in community, and that is my main goal. To that end, for every paid tatreez class I offer, I also offer free classes in my community and discounted classes in support of the missions of non-profit organizations. If you work for a Palestinian/Arab nonprofit and are in need of a fundraiser for your organization, please contact me as well. While I am not able to donate financially these days, I can donate my time and curriculum to hold a class for your organization in service of our people and our homeland. Lastly, if you or someone you know wants to take a class, but doesn’t have the means, please contact me. Virtual tatreez circles are always free and open to practitioners of all skill levels.