Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Take it to the light...

Over the Coptic Christmas holiday weekend, one of our shopping expeditions was to our friend Badr's shop in El-Souk--variously known as "Aladdin's Hule" or the "Old Arkhashom Shop" or simply "the brothers'". This is the way their business card describes what awaits the visitor once he/she has crossed the threshold: "Enter the paradise for collectors and amateurs of Finest Egyptian and Bedouin Carpets, Silk carpets Needle work, Cotton and Copper Wares." And that's not the half of it! If you're lucky, Badr or another member of the family will take you to the back room and open a treasure chest of bedouin and other jewelry. I have indulged more than once over the years! That same room holds the kilims. (This is where I was introduced to the process of selecting and bargaining for these textiles when I was in the market for one for my room at CH back in 2006. My post "Carpet-Bagging It" describes that process.)

But there is so much more in this "warren of wonders"--from the sublime to the slightly ridiculous. A couple of samples:

But this day, three of us were on a mission--to find just the right carpets (not kilims). So we ascended to the upper floor where the carpet room is located and settled in for some "hard work". Of course, the process becomes even more time-consuming when three people are shopping for carpets at the same time. But Badr et al are always up for the challenge, and piles of carpets were soon unrolled on the floor. Some were considered "No's" almost immediately, but others were left out as the narrowing-down process unfolded. The upstairs room is equipped with adjustable lighting. But there's no substitute for daylight when it comes to final decision-making. So, to the accompaniment of the phrase "Take them to the light!", we got several of them down the stairs and out onto the sidewalk:
After some serious head-scratching and viewing from all angles, decisions were made and the carpets were lugged back upstairs. Then the critical business of pricing went forward. One which was purchased (if it had not been, I would have bought it!) is pictured below:
With at least five carpets acquired, we had to pile into a LARGE taxi to get the spoils back to the house. A very satisfying experience, even for those of us who didn't buy.

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