- Governorate: Sohag
- City: Akmim
- Coordinates: 26°33'53"N 31°44'52"E
Sohag belongs to the Nile Valley and Delta eco-zone. Lying on both banks of the Nile River, this Upper Egyptian governorate boasts agricultural land that is both rich and fertile. Sohag’s economy is dependent on several industries, including agriculture, spinning, weaving and tourism. The city is also home to a large Orthodox Coptic minority and it counts, among its touristic sites, a number of important 20th century churches, such as the Church of the Holy Virgin and the Church of Saint George, as well as several monasteries which include the Coptic White Monastery and the Red Monastery.
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. Today Akhmim is still home to an ever declining community of handloom weavers and weaver assistants, weaving cotton and linen, mastering the preparation processes for the loom to operate.
The ancient skill of hand weaving has been handed down from one generation to the next. Most hand weavers in Akmim are among the elderly though and it is unlikely to find hand weavers among members of the younger generation. The disinterest in hand weaving among the youth has caused many to fear that this skill may not pass on to the younger generation and that it may therefore be at risk of being lost and forgotten; something Markaz continues to work on as part of its core philosophy.
The process of hand weaving involves the entire family as both the men and the women participate in creating these unique crafts. The weaving process begins with the purchase of raw yarn in large quantities for the loom. The loom is ultimately prepared based on the end product that will be produced. Most families set up the loom inside their homes and work on producing these wonderful crafts within the confines of their own homes. Essentially, this is one of the oldest family-run businesses
Markaz began working in Akhmim/Sohag with the institution "Cooperative for Productive Families", which falls under the Ministry of Social Affairs, in 1996. Through the Cooperative’s network, Markaz was able to identify Master Weavers to work with. Today, Markaz partners directly with identified Master Weavers and has been able to develop a sustainable systems of crafts development and sales that provides a steady income to the many weavers of Akhmim.