Jewish Yemenite embroidery

Yemenite wedding
I was about 9 years old when I remember my father taking me along to see a Yemenite Jewish wedding. (My father was a percussionist playing in a small band that played at weddings). My first impression when I saw the bride was astonishment as she was so beautiful. Her dress was white, all embroidered with silver, silk and gold threads. Her hat was covered with thick embroidery with many different stitches and with many coins gold and silver. There were many women surrounding her also dressed in embroidered garments. Some women were holding wreaths of flowers with candles in the middle and few women were holding large round tin drums. They were singing and tapping on the drums while bringing the bride towards the centre of the wedding ceremony. On the other side the man also dressed in festive garments accompanied the groom towards the bride with singing. The groom, while arriving towards the bride quoted from the Song of Songs Come my bride, my beauty, come.
Henna ceremony
Four till five days before the Yemenite Jewish wedding begins, there is a so called Henna ceremony, where the celebration for the bride is separate from that of the groom. This is also the time of announcing the Mohar, giving of gifts from the families of both sides. The gifts are publicly declared loudly.
Yemenite handwork
The emphasis of the handwork involved in the Yemenite Jewish wedding made a great impression on me. In Yemen Jews dominated the professional fields of arts and crafts. Some Yemenite Moslems believed that jewellery made by Jews had healing powers or magical powers. Many Yemenites believed that the arts and crafts trade collapsed after the Jews left Yemen to go to Israel. Today there is a small Jewish population left in Yemen. Like the rest of the country they have adopted western styles in dress and crafts. The only time you see truly traditional clothing and jewellery is at weddings.
In Israel
The Yemenite community in Israel has held on to some of their traditions. Some women still make embroidery that contains many different stitches and designs. A head dress, hand embroidered, can weight up to 25 kilos(!) and contains thick embroidery on linen or cotton clothes with silver and gold threads combined with real silver and gold coins. The Yemenites also introduced their arts and crafts styles into modern Israeli culture and in general the Yemenite community was contributed to beautiful arts in the country.
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