Sultan Qaitbay’s local craftsmanship fair to open Friday in the City of the Dead
Sultan Qaitbay’s Fair (Archive)

CAIRO: Local craftsmen at Cairo’s City of the Dead neighborhood will showcase their work during the Sultan Qaitbay’s Fair slated to kick off Friday outside the Sultan’s Hawd (drinking-trough for animals,) according to a press release from the EU delegation to Egypt.

“The Fair is an opportunity for local artisans, who have been preserving their traditional craftsmanship over the years, to showcase and sell their products that include hand-blown glass, silver inlay, brass, silver jewelry, mother-of-pearl inlays, turned-wood furniture and more,” the EU mission stated.

Handmade copper and brass work performed by local at the City of The Dead

The fair, which will start Friday at 4:00 p.m. for four hours, will also feature pieces by contemporary artists in different media, and seeks to enhance art and culture accessibility of the neighborhood within the City of the Dead.

handmade objects crafted by locals at the City of the Dead

The event is part of a one-year renovation project dubbed ‘Outside In’: “The Art of Inclusion,” to restore the Hawd of Sultan al-Ashraf Qaytbay which was opened to the public last July.

The Hawd is a part of mediaeval Islamic architecture masterpiece; a complex consists of Mosque,Madrasa and Mausoleum built by the Mameluk Sultan al-Ashraf Qaytbay who ruled between 1468 and 1496.

“The project of conservation, research and adaptive re-use of the Hawd was carried out in 2014-2015 by the Cairo-based ARCHiNOS Architecture,” Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty told The Cairo Post during the inauguration ceremony in July.

Customers shopping at the City of the Dead's local craftmanship open fair

The project was financed by the EU Delegation to Egypt with a contribution from the Kingdom of Netherlands, affiliated to the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo and supervised by the Historic Cairo Project of the Antiquities Ministry, said Damaty.

“The project aims at contributing to sustainability in the neighborhood economy through establishing a steady show room where local craftsmen can display their products on a rotational basis,” according to the EU statement.

Charities providing drinking water to animals (hawds) were not as common in Cairo as those serving people (sabils), but quite a number have been preserved, Professor of Islamic history at Minya University Fathy Khourshid told The Cairo Post.

Local craftsmen show variety of pyrex glass objects

“Sultan Qaitbey built at least three in the city,” said Khourshid.

The long Reign of Sultan Ashraf Qaitbay, between 1468 and 1496 was the zenith of the Mameluk state, Khourshid said, adding that the Mameluk Sultanate was prosperous with commercial links to Europe, Asia and Africa.

“When he died, aged 86, he left behind no less than 230 monuments throughout Cairo and other cities in Egypt as well as Jerusalem, Mecca, Gaza, Damascus and Aleppo,” said Khourshid.

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  1. fabrice desplechin
    December 9, 2015 at 8:57 am

    the Hawd of Qaytbay is actually closed to western-looking foreigners, thanks to a crazy self-proclaimed guardian – but if you’re Egyptian it’s OK

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