Masks required in Abakanowicz Research Center; optional for rest of Museum MORE

Given with Love

The best presents are the ones that remind us of the gift-givers and their love for us. During this season of gift giving, we’re highlighting a few objects in American Medina: Stories of Muslim Chicago that are especially poignant.  

With Afghan refugees and immigrants spread throughout the world, exchanging keepsakes across thousands of miles strengthens family connections. Hanna Kherzai of north suburban Lake Villa was gifted this hand-embroidered girl’s dress (c. 2005) and hand-beaded purse (c. 2005), which were made by her grandmother and cousin in Afghanistan, respectively. The purse’s design is from the Jughoto district in the Wardak province. Kherzai wore the dress for special occasions, such as her kindergarten graduation. The embroidery (gandh) is from a dress that belonged to her mother, Oghay. Kherzai’s grandmother removed that section from the original dress and used it for the new dress. The dress style comes from Medculii, a village in Afghanistan, while the mirrors on the garment are a common feature of Pashtun clothing. Pashtuns are the majority ethnic group in Afghanistan. Women in Afghan villages often make and sell handicrafts like these to help support their families.

Learn more about the Kherzai family and American Medina: Stories of Muslim Chicago in the introductory film that appears at the beginning of the exhibition.

Dress and purse courtesy of Oghay Kherzai. All photographs by CHM staff. 

Gift Ideas from the American Medina

Looking to shop small and local this year? We’ve compiled a list of independent businesses that are featured in the exhibition American Medina: Stories of Muslim Chicago. Check out a wide selection of artwork, home décor, clothing, and even pies!


Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago Stories