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18:30 – 20:30

Summary

Pop-Up Palaces: A journey through 1000 years of Egypt’s ceremonial tent-making tradition

In one of medieval Cairo’s last remaining covered streets is a community of tentmakers whose work has transformed the Egyptian landscape at times of celebration and festivity. For at least a millennium, these craftsmen have created magnificent handstitched cotton pavilions of a thousand colours which have entertained kings and country folk alike, awed enemies, and brought powerful sultans to tears.

Discover the stories of this fascinating craft through the voices of its craftsmen and patrons, past and present. Get to handle some of the treasures of this remarkable textile tradition, and immerse yourself in a little-known treasure-trove of Islamic art.

Seif El Rashidi is a historian of Islamic art who worked in historic Cairo for a decade, where he was first captivated by the tentmakers, and their splendid textile creations. This talk and textile handling session is the result of several years of research into the tent making tradition, leading to his newly published book: The Tentmakers of Cairo: Egypt’s Medieval and Modern Applique Craft, (with Sam Bowker). The book was supported with the financial assistance of The Barakat Trust.

The Barakat Trust, founded as a UK Charity in 1987, supports the study and preservation of Islamic heritage, architecture, archaeology, art and culture by funding students, academic research, publications, digitisation, conservation, conferences and other projects.

Photo courtesy of Ola Seif