with contributions from

George Al Ama Collection

Various Bethlehem engraved mother-of-pearl artifacts,18th C to 20th C


Al Ma'mal (The Tile Factory)

19th Century Bethlehem Engraved Shell, George Ama Collection.

The mother of pearl industry in Bethlehem demonstrates the intimate connection of social, economic and political factors in the production of iconic images. The examples in this selection—curated by Al Ama—includes reference to the 17th Century style of Christian holy site miniatures, and shows the dramatic impact of the arrival of pinctada maxima shells from the Pacific and Australia on 18th and 19th Century production. A recent example shows the near extinguishment of the craft under pressure of tariffs and economic barriers.  

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