PhillyFolk Artists

Maisaloon Dias

Tatreez: Palestinian Embroiderer

Maisaloon Dias is a Palestinian American social worker raised in Philadelphia. Her mother is a seamstress, originally from Beit Hanina near Jerusalem. As Ms Dias grew more interested in her mother’s work, she asked to learn tatreez, the Palestinian art of embroidery. She says of her needlework, “This is my life, this is who I am, this is my culture. It gives me a sense of belonging.” She has developed her knowledge of the tradition, learning from Palestinian women in Palestine, Jordan, and the Palestinian diaspora.

In Philadelphia, Ms Dias teaches tatreez and uses the art to start discussions about the occupation of Palestine and peoples” perceptions of Arab women in America. She has conducted workshops for the Philadelphia Folklore Project and Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture; her work has been was displayed in the exhibition “Acting Out,” organized by HomeSkooled.

For the PFP 2012 Community Supported Art Program (CSA), Ms Dias created bookmarks, using tatreez patterns traditionally found on Palestinian dresses and household items. She saw this as a way to build awareness about Palestinian culture and folk arts. Her hope was that “using tatreez bookmarks can help create discussions about Palestinian communities in which the designs originated, and about the current fate of those communities under the occupation of Palestine.”