Aleppo Embroidery (Syria)

Waistcoat with Aleppo embroidery, Aleppo region, Syria, early 20th century Waistcoat with Aleppo embroidery, Aleppo region, Syria, early 20th century Courtesy Widad Kawar Collection, Amman, Jordan.

Aleppo embroidery is a form of monochrome counted thread embroidery associated with the Aleppo region in Syria. During the first half of the twentieth century, many Arab girls made garments for their future husband, which were to be worn by the grooms during the wedding ceremonies. These garments were intended to show off the embroidery skills of the bride to her future husband and his family.

In Aleppo, the embroidery used for such groom’s clothing was normally carried out in yellow, orange or white, and occasionally multi-coloured silk on a white cotton ground. Later on, stranded cotton thread was used for the stitching.

A large range of stitches was used for these garments, including arrowhead stitch, back stitch, buttonhole stitch, cross stitch, diagonal filling stitch, eyelets, simple faggoting, hem stitch, satin stitch, tent stitch, as well as embroidered lace and pulled thread work. Sometimes pin tucks were added to give extra texture to the overall appearance of the garment.

Occasionally, triangular areas of quilting were added to the bottom of trouser pockets and cuffs in order to strengthen these areas. The quilting was usually worked in a decorative manner with a running stitch. The designs used for these garments were all geometric and closely worked.

Some writers have described this work as Damascus goldwork (Gostelow 1985:43), after the Syrian capital, Damascus. The type of work described in this entry, however, comes from the Aleppo region and hence the name. Some Druze groups in southern Syria and Lebanon used a similar form.


  • GOSTELOW, Mary (1985). Blackwork, London: Batsford Embroidery Paperback.
  • KAWAR, Widad, Layla PIO and Gillian VOGELSANG-EASTWOOD (2016). ‘Syrian embroidery,' in: Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood (ed.), Encyclopedia of Embroidery from the Arab World, London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 444-475.


Last modified on Wednesday, 25 January 2017 12:56