Qadisha Valley Embroideries (Lebanon)

Infant burial and associated textiles, Qadisha Valley, Lebanon, 13th century AD. Infant burial and associated textiles, Qadisha Valley, Lebanon, 13th century AD.

The Qadisha Valley embroideries were discovered in 1991 by a team of speleologists working in the Qadisha Valley in northern Lebanon. While exploring the Asi-i-Hadath cave complex, they found a series of burials, which included four infants and three adults, skeletal remains of a foetus and one male skull.

The associated objects included various textiles and garments, some of them embroidered, twenty manuscripts, wooden combs, coins and medieval pottery. The objects recovered from the cave were used to date the burials to c. AD 1283. At that time the majority of the people in the area were Christian Maronites. The mummies and related objects are now in the Lebanese National Museum, Beirut.

The embroideries are of particular importance, as they have been professionally excavated, come from one known provenance and the relevant information has been published. The range of embroidery styles and techniques that were in use has been documented. Further, the embroideries are still on the original garments and have not been cut out as often happened elsewhere.

All of the embroideries were worked on a cotton, even-weave ground of different qualities. The embroideries were worked in floss silk in various colours, notably blue, brown and red. There were relatively few stitches used for the embroideries: cross stitch, long and short cross stitch, darning stitch, herringbone stitch and double running stitch (Holbein stitch).

Several of the children’s garments were made from numerous pieces of old cloth sewn together (Had. 91-6 B). In addition, two of the baby dresses were decorated with applied panels of embroidery, probably taken from older garments. One piece of embroidery, for example, was found on two dresses (Had. 90-32 B and Had. 91-6 B). An iron needle (Had. 88-4) was also recorded. It is 22.7 cm long. There is no direct evidence, however, to indicate this type or size of needle was used for the embroideries, but this possibility should not be ruled out.


  • BAROUDI, Fadi (ed.), 1994. Momies du Liban: Rapport préliminaire sur la découverte archéologique de `Asi-l-Hadat (XIIIe siècle), Paris: Edifra.
  • VOGELSANG-EASTWOOD, Gillian (2016). 'Medieval embroideries from the Qadisha Valley, Lebanon', in: Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood (ed.), Encyclopedia of Embroidery from the Arab World, Bloomsbury Publishers, pp. 114-124.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 5 June 2016)


Last modified on Sunday, 30 April 2017 12:12
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