A guide to Cairo's craft heritage: Exploring ancient artisans & modern traditions

Exploring Cairo's ancient art and archaeology allows us to understand the country’s deep history. Saqqara, 14 miles south of the city, holds one of Egypt’s first pyramids, featuring incredible wall carvings, paintings of crocodiles and Nile fishermen; and the subterranean tomb of Pharaoh Unas with its stone a blur of hieroglyphic incantations and fretted roof with stars.

The Grand Egyptian Museum, set to open in late 2023 in Giza, will exhibit the largest collection of Egyptian antiquities ever assembled and will demonstrate the country’s ancient craft traditions. Such traditions are further outlined at the Jameel House of Traditional Arts in Fustat, Historic Cairo, an area once renowned for its craftsmanship as the first Islamic capital of Egypt. At the Jameel House, artisans paint lozenges like teardrops on jugs, while ceramists drone at the potter’s wheels. The centre is supported by Community Jameel and The Prince's Foundation School of Traditional Arts, and invites 20 students annually, mostly young women, to train in the traditional crafts, aiming to prevent the disappearance of Cairo’s Coptic and Islamic art.

National Geographic

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