Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Tentmakers Khan

A typical crowded souq where we mingled with the locals

I have returned from visiting Syria and Egypt. What an adventure! Lots of exciting things to see and the senses were once again fully challenged. Over the next few weeks I will blog about things seen and relating to textiles, as well as progress on my own new projects.
We spent time in the souqs (shopping areas) of the old cities of both Damascus and Cairo. Shop themes seemed to concentrate in one street and the Tentmakers in Khan was no exception. Panels of appliqued and quilted cloth were used to line the inside of the tents as far back as the time of the pharoahs. Geometric patterns, in bright red, green, blue and yellow cottons, seemed very familiar as many of these are still used today in western quilting. No longer regarded as a necessity in Egypt, this occupation is being threatened by cheaper printed quilts. The Khan stitchers, mostly men, continue their tradition and create an amazing selection of quilts and items, from small to very large, for the tourist industry and for local special events.
While waiting for my companions to finish their viewing/purchasing, I conversed with one of the stitchers while he worked, and he invited me to try my hand. I managed to achieve quite a decent piece of applique and I think he approved as he soon set to doing something else while I stitched. I had passed my apprenticeship!

A view through the tentmakers souq

He seems happy with my efforts......

My two cushion purchases, the birds were not a typical pattern, nor were the colours (paler than normal) of the geometric cushion, but they suit my intended use

Next Blog: Food Patterns

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