A Story Encumbered in Every Cross Stitch
We are in the heart of the god of the sun we are in lub-anan: Lebanon. Our country is on the East Mediterranean coast. Lebanon is a melting pot of Mediterranean identity with a modern twist that is masqueraded by arabesque ipseity. It is hard to describe Lebanon due to its duality, a small beautiful country drowning in a plethora of problems. In this piece, we will render the beautiful aspect of Lebanon…the art, specifically the cross stitch. through the story of Zeina Saba Nabbout and how she came to create masterpieces from a simple cross stitch pattern.
Cross stitch is a handmade art done through yarn and needle, just like Lebanon, cross stitch also has duality, and just like a cross stitch pattern, Lebanon has a blooming story. It looks both simple and complicated. Through limited tools and calculated stitches… the simplicity of the outcome is a true complex journey.
Through odd circumstances, at the age of 12, Zeina Saba Nabbout learned how to cross-stitch, and ever since she has never stopped. She is a retired Arabic language teacher who spends her leisure time happily cross-stitching. Enjoy this window into Zeina’s world.
Transforming a Cross Stitch World
“It all started by coincidence, I was 12 and playing with my friends when I saw something shining between two bricks…it was a needle and I have seen the old ladies stitching something earlier, so I gave it to them and they offered to teach me how to stitch.”.
“The idea of creating something so beautiful and complicated out of a needle and a yarn lured me to pursue this route”.
“Handwork clears the mind. It is a tool I use to distress, well if I stop work for one day I get overwhelmed by anxiety”.
“If you take a closer look they are just lines and crosses, but when you zoom out all these stitches entice to form a figure”.
Read: Explore the work of another Lebanese artisan in “Copper Art: Embellishing the Lebanese culture“.
Watch: Follow up with “How is Copper Art Created? First-hand Insight from a Lebanese Artisan” on our sister channel to know more about the procedure of creating copper art.
“I think those stitches are the embodiment of each individual in the society. Every stitch is an entity of its own and without it, the bigger image will be missing, but a solo stitch cannot create an image”.
“This is one of the oldest pieces I have done, it was in my old house, and I brought it with me when I moved. I feel that every piece is part of me.”
“Religion is an important part of my life and I love to showcase this aspect through my work”.
“My neighbors joke with me saying that every corner in my house can be an exhibition”.
“A woman wanted a gift for a special person, and she told me stitching two flowers that symbolize their bond is the most sentimental gratuity she could ever think of”.
“When I was young it was very common in every family in my village to do handwork, but now you rarely hear about that”.
Zeina Saba Nabboutt
Mariam is a Media and Mass Communication student from Lebanon currently pursuing her MA in the field. “Culture is the essence of our humanity, and each time we indulge in it, embrace it, we are more and more spiritually connected”. Mariam likes to show Lebanon how she sees it, the way she believes it must be seen.