11 November 2020

The new journey of George Al’Ama with the Terra Sancta Museum


In September 2020, George Al’Ama, founder of Dar Al Sabagh Diaspora Studies and Research Centre and the head of the Research and Training Unit of CCHP Centre – Conservation of Cultural Heritage Preservation, participated as a permanent consultant in the Scientific Committee of the Terra Sancta Museum to bring his expertise and knowledge on the Palestinian art and crafts collection of the Custody of the Holy Land.

George Al’Ama has a close relationship with the Custody that began long before participating in the Scientific Committee.

It all began when he started collecting Palestinian material culture, specifically Palestinian jewelry from Bethlehem, which led his curiosity to seek his family jewelry heritage. 

His great-great-grandmother Nijmeh Morcos had few jewels, and when she died in 1945, she left an iznaq (chin-chain in silver), two rings, and bracelets. George’s grandmother gave the two rings to George and offered the iznaq to the parish priest. At the time, many local community members offered jewelry to the church as a gift to the Virgin Mary or to pay for a service.

In 2007, George wanted to look for the iznaq that his great-great-grandmother had offered to the parish priest. But at the time, he did not know who could help him from the Custody and did not have the opportunity to ask about it.

Last year, as a consultant in the Terra Sancta Museum’s scientific committee, he visited the church of Saint Saviour. He saw two frames containing Palestinian and Bedouin jewelry donated by the local community for the Virgin Mary. He immediately remembered his great-great-grandmother’s jewelry, but unfortunately, he could not enter Jerusalem afterward to continue his unfinished personal research. Only in June 2020 George was finally granted permission to enter Jerusalem and met Brother Stephane Milovitch ofm, director of the Custody’s Cultural Heritage Department.

Brother Stephane sent him a file containing all the details of the Custody’s Palestinian art and crafts collection. As a collector and expert in traditional Palestinian art, he asked him to prepare an online presentation to present the collection and his research to the Scientific Committee.

Therefore, in August, Brother Stephane brought the entire collection to George’s office at Dar Al Sabagh Center to prepare for the presentation. George was excited to discover this collection’s beauty and value, especially when he found out his family’s iznaq in it. Indeed, the collection consists of five iznaq, and one of them is very special and different. It has the same pattern and style as George’s two rings. George explains that this iznaq and the two rings are personalized in the same way and that the same craftsman made them.

Finally, in September 2020, George was pleased to present his own story with his family’s iznaq to the scientific committee. Moreover, in his presentation, he showed the value of the Palestinian art and crafts collection. He convinced the scientific committee to exhibit three pieces in the future historical section of the Terra Sancta Museum: a bughmeh (necklace), a rare and precious shatweh (headdress) from Hebron, and the iznaq (chin-chain).












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