The Seals of Marsa Matruh

The Mediterranean seal was once common off
the north coast of Egypt but thought to have
gone extinct as none had been seen in Egyptian
waters for 20 years. A few years ago one
appeared, and captured on a fisherman’s phone,
showing that this wonderful creature can still be
found in Egypt sometimes.
The inscription “The Sea is Laughing and
Dancing” captures the dancing waves and the
activity of sea life.
Dimentions: 215 x 132 cm

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Months of Plenty

The chronicler Ibn Iyas writes that among the marvels of Egypt
is that each of the Coptic months is noted for a special food or
scent: the dates of Toot, and the Pomegranates of Baba, and the
bananas of Hatur, and the Fish of Kiahk and the water of Tooba,
the Ramees of Amshir, the milk of Baramhat, the flowers of
Barmouda, the Naba of Bashans, the figs of Buna, the honey of
Abeeb, and the grapes of Misri.
Dimentions: 140 x 140 cm

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The Marvels of Egypt

Ibn Iyas, (1442 – 1523) begins his most celebrated work, “The beautiful flowers in the chronicle of the ages” 
(الدهور وقائع في الزهور بدائع (with a reflection the marvels of Egypt, most of which relate to the natural world. 
He says that “There is no marvel in any country that is not matched our surpassed by the 
wonders of Egypt. 
And then goes on to list 30 wonders thought to exist nowhere else in the world.
“Emeralds, which are not to be found anywhere else in the world, and said to be found near Bahnassa, 
and Alum and salt which is not to be found anywhere else, and ebony, and pistachio and sumac coloured 
marble, and others; and opium, which is the juice of the poppy and whose benefits cannot be denied; 
and the balsam of Matariyya, which is only to be found in Egypt, and which is highly regarded by the 
Christian kings; and string rays which when held over somebody suffering from fever, cure them, and the 
snakes whose poison produces useful antidotes, and lizards whose benefits are many, and Acacia 
firewood which is fast flammable and slow burning; and yusufi wheat, and rapeseed oil, and egg 
incubators that produce chickens which are among Egypt’s most delicious foods, and which are not 
found outside Egypt; and oranges and lemons that are said to have been brought from India in the third 
century after the Hijra, and a type of green almond called bing which disappeared from Egypt in the 
seventh century, and mastic whose benefits are many, and red peaches that cannot be found anywhere 
else, and Egyptian honey which is better than that of other places; and it has horses and mules and 
donkeys that are finer than those from elsewhere, and it has Assiuti weaving that is not to be found 
anywhere else, and drinking cups from Damietta, not to be found anywhere else, and it has weasels and 
mongeese, which eat snakes. Without them, Egypt would be unliveable. 
It has summer water melons, which have many benefits, and are said to have been imported from India 
at the time of the Copts, and it has porphyry, and hay that is fed to the horses in spring, and it has linen 
and shanbar cucumbers. Among its qualities is the blessed Nile, which are good for the digestion. Had it 
not been for the lemon water that the people of Egypt drink, they would have sung the praises of the 
sweetness of the water of Egypt.
Dimentions: 190 x 210 cm

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Seeing Differently

The great legacy of the Egyptian chronicler
Muhammad Ibn Iyas, whose life spanned the
end of the Mamluk era and the beginning of
the Ottoman era are his writings capturing
the spirit and land of Egypt in evocative detail.
This tapestry, based on a map in Ibn Iyas’
manuscript entitled “The book of wonders of
information from the land of Egypt –
 Egypt shows ) كتاب عجائب الاخبار فى خطط مصر )
seen from the north looking south,
challenging how we think of this land.
It encourages us to rethink what we know, to
notice what we might not have noticed, and
to reflect on what has endured or faded away.
157 x 233 cm

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As Great As Your Dream

Contemporary Khayameya Wall-Hangings


This collection of hangings made by skilled craftsmen in the street of the tentmakers in Cairo continues a long Egyptian tradition of decorating homes and public places with hand-stitched Khayameya textiles, creating an uplifting, joyous mood.

In creating this collection, we draw upon this tradition, producing wall hangings that respond to the world around them today, capturing sentiments and scenes of contemporary and modern Egypt.

Our theme for this exhibition is the many different states of dreaminess – from the universal dream of prosperity and of plenty, seen in gardens and perfectly ripe fruit, to the dream of tranquillity so perfectly captured by the gentle movement of feluccas sailing unhurriedly up and down the Nile. Some pieces reflect the active process of dreaming – the dream of education, often that of parents for their children, the dreams of the state, currently orchestrating its vision of an Egyptian renaissance, and even the mundane dream of personal autonomy and adventure, captured so well in scenes of
young tuk-tuk drivers, zooming around the more informal areas of Cairo.

As the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish wrote, “The earth
expands to encompass your dreams.”


This exhibition reflects on the Khayameya craft itself – celebrating its artistic
traditions. A few examples reproduce antique pieces to understand their conventions of scale and colour. In most of the works, we have drawn upon
these traditions to create something new. Such a process is true of any living craft – for over 1000 years, Egyptian craftsmen making Khayameya have combined tradition with experimentation in different measure, depending on the craftsperson, the mood, the client, and the occasion.

For us, the process of creating these pieces is a surprisingly long and intense one. Using pen and ink, paint, and design software, we piece together the components of each design. Some pieces take 20 or 30 design trials. Then there is the process of translating the design into fabric. Sometimes the perfect colour is only available in a fabric that is too thick or thin, and we have to go back to the drawing board.

We work through a reflective, collaborative process, hanging the finished
pieces up, standing back and thinking of whether we need to add some
stitching, or add more patterns.

Our process mirrors the collaborative tradition of this craft. Historically the
Khayameya technique was used to produce large tent panels. Four or five
people would work on each panel together, enjoyably passed the time,
thinking, chatting, and stitching.

This collection echoes that spirit of intense, but pleasurable, labour.

Seif El Rashidi & Naila El Shishiny

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2021 Summer Exhibits

2021 Markaz hits the north coast with not one, but TWO exhibitions to showcase their latest crafts and holiday home items. 
Check out some of the pics from both events:

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Once Upon a Time in the West

Matrouh is part of the Western Desert Mediterranean Coastal Zone. Matrouh lies around 150 km west of the El-Alamein WWII battle site. Its main town, Marsa Matrouh is a small Mediterranean town known for its white sandy beaches and breathtaking clear blue waters. It was also made famous during WWII as the location of the Rommel, “The Desert Fox” camp site. 

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The Beauty of Simple

Basket weaving is one of the most ancient forms of craft, and part of the Egyptian heritage from the Ancient Egyptian tradition. There are generally categorized into tree types, coiled, twined and plaited, and all techniques descend directly from the Pharonic times.

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Ancient Traditions - Master Weavers

Akhmim is home of the impressive Meritamen-statue daughter of Ramsis II and Queen Nefertari 1280 BC. The city has been growing organically since layer over layer like rarely seen in Egypt. 

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Metamorphosis of a Butterfly

Since Egypt was ancient, Egyptians developed crafts drawing on their environment to design products that add quality and beauty to their lives and as a source of income. Crafts have useful uses but they are also an art form as decorative accessories for homes and for personal attire

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