Qena

Qena

Egypt

Qena lies within the Nile Valley and Delta eco-zone. In the governorate of Qena, Markaz works in the three areas of Nagada, Hagaza, and Garagos. Hagaza lies on the Eastern bank of the Nile. On the Western bank of the Nile however, lies the small village of Garagos.

The city of Qena is itself the capital of the Qena Governorate. The Qena Valley which branches east toward the Red Sea has caused the area to prosper as a major route linking Upper Egypt to the Red Sea. The governorate of Qena relies on both agriculture and industry for its income. It is famous for its sugar cane, bananas, tomatoes, and wheat crops. Industrially, the governorate boasts the presence of the largest Aluminum factory in the Middle East, employing a large number of its local residents. It is also important to note that Qena is also home to some of Upper Egypt’s best-known touristic sites such as the pharaonic Temples of Dandara and Isna.

The people of Qena work together to create unique crafts rooted deep in their history and culture. Unlike Akhmim, in Sohag, where the men primarily operate the loom while the women’s role is often limited to that of loom preparation, in Nagada in Qena both the men and the women operate the loom simultaneously. In fact, in Nagada the entire household participates in the preparation and operation of the loom. It is customary to find men and women sitting side-by-side operating the looms in their homes.

Markaz works directly with the Master Weavers operating in Nagada. The Master Weavers have a long standing and close relationship with the many families of weavers and have been in the business of weaving for many years, having inherited the craft from their parents and grandparents before them. The relationship between the weavers and the Master Weaver is a very unique and special relationship. The Master Weaver purchases all of the raw materials required and invests in the loom itself. Having provided a significant amount of capital, the Master Weaver expects from the weavers a certain degree of craft quality. This is necessary to enable him to provide quality crafts to Markaz that can subsequently be sold to the Cairo market. Nevertheless, the relationship between the weavers and the Master Weaver doesn’t end there. The close relationship between both parties surpasses the business relationship and extends into a close kinship between the two. This is most evident in the debt and repayment system established between them. Important family events such as a son or a daughter’s wedding require substantial sums of money that are beyond the means of most weavers. Often, they resort to requesting a loan from the Master Weaver which is subsequently paid in monthly installments from the income generated by their craft production. This not only assists the weavers in meeting certain financial needs, it also ensures that the weavers remain loyal to the one particular Master Weaver with whom they work.

The governorate of Qena is known for making crafts based on cotton and linen weaving. Specifically, the weavers in Nagada work on cotton and linen weaving to produce a number of products for Markaz which include shawls as well as cloth per meter used by Markaz for the production of its own products.