Married to a Bedouin

In 1989 I married into a very large family.  At last count my three kids have 63 first cousins on their father’s side. …. three on the other.

My husband is a Bedouin from the Negev Desert in Israel who arrived in Australia in 1986, a few months after the death of this father.

Suliman Abu Sharb, Bedouin from the Negev, man of wisdom and my Father In-law

We had planned to have a Bedouin Wedding but paperwork got in the way and my first visit to the Negev was not until 1990. In the meantime, my gorgeous sister in-law Fatima, hand embroidered and posted to me a traditional Bedouin wedding dress which I wore on my first visit.

Coffee with my Mother In-law
I often sat with Miriam, my mother in-law, she had a stillness that calmed me.

In 1990 Hura was nothing like you find now.  There was no town planning then, the only thing well organised was the water supply.  Roads were unmade and there was no electricity.  There were not many permanent houses, homes were very basic ….. but by then they had moved on from tents.

View of Hura, 1990.
View of Hura from the hill that saved me!

I loved the kids, they were so much fun and took me for walks in the hills. It was inappropriate for me to walk in the village, you never knew who’s back yard you might end up in and it drove me spare sitting around all day not having anything to do and not understanding the language .

Don’t think it wasn’t fabulous, it was such a privilege to be there, the family were incredibly warm and generous, and once they learned of my passion for textiles I received many gifts of exquisitely embroidered traditional dresses.

Hand Embroidered Bedouin Wedding Dress
My Bedouin Wedding Dress, hand embroidered by Fatima, my sister in-law.

Once the  bread making, cleaning, cooking and washing was done, the women would sit during the heat of the afternoon in the shade of a grapevine and embroider their new frocks.  There was fashion …. oh yes … and rivalry, you don’t need to speak the language to know that.

Hand Embroidered Bedouin Wedding Dress -Detail

Fine cross stitch forms the patterns, all of which had a meaning that was lost to most of the women.  In those days most of the older women didn’t read or write, traditional knowledge was oral. This is the first of many wonderful authentic Bedouin textiles that has surfaced from the back of the bottom drawer…

One Comment Add yours

  1. It does make you wonder what people are thinking, getting married in white polyester cappuccino dresses. With leg-o-mutton sleeves.

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