Embroidery in Lebanon is not considered to be a craft as all families, whether peasants, villagers or city-dwellers, practiced it as well as crochet, thus perpetuating ancestral traditions. The young ladies were most hard-working as they had to start preparing their trousseau as of their tenth year. The latter had to contain both embroidery for personal use such as veils, undergarments and dresses, and embroidery items for household use: window, cupboard and closet curtains, bed covers, protective covers for sofas and tablecloths.
Embroidery never declined throughout Lebanon’s history, and thus for a simple reason; this technique did not require costly equipments and was practiced at home. Later, when philanthropic associations decided to help promote and develop this traditional craft, their only concern was to find the right locations that could hold the large numbers of women and young girls interested. Today, embroidery workshops are everywhere in Lebanon, and their production helps support entire families living in remote villages that were once in peril.
The embroidery works are collected from the villages and dispatched to the capital where they are sold in specialized shops. “La Maison de l’Artisan” is an official body that looks after a large number of embroidery workshops, supporting them financially, technically, and helping them sell off their produce.
One can also find a multitude of embroidery works showcased and sold in the regions, thus reflecting the specificities of the area: In the North in Tripoli, Batroun and Zghorta - in Mount-Lebanon in Zouk-Mikhael and Jounieh - in the Chouf in Deir el-Qamar and Baaqline -in the Beqaa, in Zahleh, Baalbek and Jibjanine - in the South, in Sidon and Tyre – and in Beirut, in the neighborhoods of Achrafieh, Hamra, Aïn el-Mreisseh and Clémenceau.
The Tark and Oya techniques are specific to workers of the Baalbek region. The tark designates the silver thread embroidery of large scarves, or muslin dresses. The fabric, traditionally black, beige or brown, is stretched on a small embroidery hoop. A 2mm thick flat thread is passed through a specially designed needle. The worker, usually a woman, introduces the needle in the fabrics with a quick stroke or tark, forms the stitch and cuts the thread. The stand-alone stitches shape into a variety of motifs like cedars, dancers, geometrical figures, etc…
The oya technique is different in that produces a garland of flowers in a multitude of colors and a variety of forms. These joyful bunches of flowers are usually embroidered on the fringe of a white cotton sheet. This delicate lace is embroidered with a needle and calls for patience and concentration. The technique used by the worker commands to start by stitching the stalk on which are then embroidered the corolla and the petals.