The Tentmakers of Cairo

In the labyrinthine milieu of old Cairo, in the vicinity of Bab Zuwayla, the last remaining gate of the medieval city, craftsmen have been producing textiles of both utility and striking beauty for centuries.

Intended originally for tents, these decorative pieces of stitched cotton, known as khayamiyya, have long attracted local Cairenes as well as distant travellers. Large pieces line pavilions set up to celebrate weddings or returning pilgrims; other pieces assume a decorative domestic function as wall hangings, bedspreads, or pillow cases.

Whether publically or privately displayed, the floral, geometric, calligraphic, or Pharaonic patterns visually charm and, as both artisans and traders, the tentmakers of Cairo form part of an enduring, creative world which often recedes into a background that few see.

Below my latest comprehensive project with the 40 photographs that constitute my photographic exhibition.

The interactive platform widening the stories below is available as a self-contained platform.