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Map for the Tentmakers of Cairo

Finally I can really show people how to find the Tentmakers of Old Cairo. Or how to locate Khan Khayamiya, or Kayamiya - as they are all the same thing.

My son Sam made a wonderful map for those who wish to walk. Or for those who wish to get a taxi to Either Khan El Khalili, or from Bab El Khalk (or Bab el Qalk as the pronunciation is the same). Taxis know both of those locations.

You will see Bab Zuweilah marked on the map and it looks like this.


This is the single most wonderful street to visit in Cairo to let visitors get the feel of the modern city, and of the incredible humour and kindness of Egyptians. You will not be pushed to buy and can visit, drink tea or kakadeh, and chat, and watch a wonderfully interesting world go by.

They do not make tents so much nowadays - but the work that they make now is derived from from the colourful appliquéd linings of tents of the old days, when the tentmakers (or Khayamiya in Arabic) made brilliant linings, ceilings and covered screens for the streets. They are still used:


as screens in the desert to provide essential windbreaks for cooking, eating and sleeping,


and at weddings and henna parties like this amazing one in a Cairo street.


And funerals like the one in the City of the Dead in Cairo,


and any celebration that needs to look like a celebration.


The street is beautiful. It was built in 1647 for shoemakers, but now is the domain of the men who make beautiful hand appliqué.

These are a few pieces to get you inspired.


A piece of calligraphy, from the Koran to be hung on a wall.

This is a very traditional piece here, and with traditional colours.



You can see a Flickr photoset of all of the images I took for one exhibition.

If you really feel like browsing through a LOT of photos of all sorts of things and have a few hours to spare the link to all my organised sets is here. Syria, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Italy and India - and lots more.

But please remember - if you know someone visiting Cairo, print off the map for them, and tell them to take a cab to:

either Khan El Khalili and start from the street opposite the green bridge on the OTHER side from the Khan,


To take a cab to Bab El Khalk where you will walk up the road from the police station to Bab Zuweilah and the Tentmakers Street.

The latter is my pick as there are wonderful things to see on this street. But that is another blog.

Tell them to go without a guide. Guides demand a commission form the men for bringing tourists - and the price will go up a lot.

Say hello from me.

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Reader Comments (10)

We have just had a three-part series on Islamic art on our TV. Many places we had visited earlier this year were featured. Great memories....

December 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Parkes

Those tent panels are absolutely gorgeous! It reminds me of celtic, Hawaiian, and Ricky Tims... I would love to watch them work and take a lesson or two!

December 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPatty Ashworth

great map! ... and wonderful photos as usual ... if only you had done that map a year earlier! LOL
to think I was so close to it and didn't get there (but at least I did get to see a few of the other wonderful things I have read about here)
... oh well - I guess I will have to try and find some way to end up back for another visit to Cairo - anyone want to tell me what the winning numbers will be for the next lotto? lol
(or maybe someone has an idea for something I can invent, something useful, and that will make me enough money to retire and travel the world ... hmmm ... the word verification thingy says "antmat" - is it trying to tell me to invent antimatter? - how the heck do I do that?! ... not even sure I could invent a mat to keep ants away from one's picnic - which is the other thing that just came to mind - lol)

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteraykayem

You know, I love that you loved Egypt. I look at those tents and I see home, a home I never knew because my parents came here to the States in '69.
I plan on returning during next Ramadan...Tell me do you think the tentmakers could make someone a small tent? I would love to have something to put up in my backyard during the summers for my kids. Just a touch of home.

January 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergypsywoman

I am sure they could make you a small tent - and the screens are for sale all down the street - but in the hated printed fabric, not appliquéd. Do you speak Arabic? I could give you a phone number for an order - but it would weigh a ton.

January 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenny Bowker

Well, I would certainly love to place an order but I K N O W that the minute they get a phone call for a customer in the states the price will go up 3-5 fold than for the average Egyptian.
Since you say they can probably make it, I will think on the dimensions and colors and attempt to do this when I go. I'll take my cousins with me so they can do all the talking - since my Arabic/Egyptian has a distinctly American accent to it. LOL!!!
I gotta find the hand made panels though. Do you think it's possible?

January 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergypsywoman

Jen ...what screens are you referring to?

January 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergypsywoman

A little off-topic, but did you know there's a small town in New York state called Cairo, but locals pronounce it "karo" as opposed to how we pronounce the Cairo, Egypt in English.

Beautiful photos too.

April 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCairo Traffic Lawyer

Such beautiful photos of Cairo. I've lived in Cairo for around 10 years, and visited some of these places, and others too, however I am fascinated mostly at your fascination with tents. I will have to explore that over here in Cairo.

July 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Observant Cairene

I went to the Tent Makers a few months back with a Sudanese/Egyptian friend of mine and because she spoke Arabic and I am blond, several of the shopkeepers assumed she was my guide and were trying to put the price up as a result. You know what happens when you assume things!! We bought our things from other shops down the street :)

September 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenyfer Matthews

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