Monday, April 11, 2011

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Cairo: Day 1 - Tentmakers

As evening fell in Islamic Cairo, we finally arrived at Tentmakers' Street (souk/bazaar/khan). Until I read an entry on Jenny Bowker's blog "Postcards from Cairo" I did not know that this covered street was built in 1647 for shoemakers. The fact that it is a covered street lined on both sides with narrow shops lends the shopping experience there a kind of intimacy. And the prices are certainly much more reasonable than if you were purchasing these same items in the Khan el-Khalili or in a shop in Luxor!
Khan Khayamiya (Tentmakers) at night
I was heading to see my friend Ayman Molokhya, from whom I had purchased three wonderful pieces last March--and I just realized that I never posted those pictures:

I couldn't quite remember where Ayman was located, just that his shop was on the right as one headed south along the street, so I ended up stopping to visit with, and eventually buy from, a lovely older gentleman, Ashraf Hashem. He was able to show me some new product lines: dervishes with skirts of silk and appliqu├ęd canvas bags. Of course, we had to drink. This is an important part of any visit in Egypt. This evening we opted for hot karkaday (hibiscus). While I looked and we visited, Ashraf asked me my name and proceeded to draw it in calligraphic shapes: a bird, a fish, a mandolin and a teardrop!
Delightful! And here are my purchases from this shop:

As we were leaving and heading out of Tentmakers, we saw Ayman outside his shop. He recognized me and we stopped to chat and admire his work. But both Andy and I were too exhausted to do any serious shopping at this point. So I gave him the photo we had had taken last time:
And I promised him I would return. Which I did, but that's the subject of another post...