Traditional Sinai women costumes
Egypt has been rich in textile production since the earliest communities began to appear in the country, and it has been reflected in the art of clothes and fabrics.
The ancient Egyptians wove beautiful linen robes and embroidered textiles, some miraculously preserved. During the Coptic and Islamic eras, intricate textiles were made telling the stories of wars, miracles, and saints.
To present this history, a Textile Museum was established in the Mohamed Ali Pasha Sabil in Al-Muizz Street in Islamic Cairo displaying 250 textile pieces and 15 carpets dating from the late Pharaonic era through to the Coptic and Islamic ages.
Among the objects on display are tools used by the ancient Egyptians to clean clothes, along with illustrations demonstrating the various stages of laundering clothes in ancient times. Monks’ robes, icons, and clothes from various times in the Islamic era are also exhibited.
But time has taken its toll on the building, and it is now to be restored. To protect its treasured collection, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has decided to transfer the artefacts to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC) in Fustat, where the temporary exhibition hall is now being prepared for the inauguration of the Egyptian Textile Hall.
Work is at full swing to meet the deadline as the hall will be inaugurated soon.
Mahmoud Mabrouk, an advisor to the minister for exhibition scenarios, said that the hall will put on display not only the ancient textiles collection but also the traditional textiles known in Egypt in modern times. A collection of clothes showing the traditional costumes of Egyptians in all the governorates will be on show.
Among the most important objects on display are a collection of linen robes dating from the Ptolemaic, Coptic, Islamic and modern eras, along with a group of fabrics and ancient spinning and weaving instruments, a model of a textile workshop dating bac k to the ancient Egyptian Middle Kingdom, a statue of an overseer of weavers during the Old Kingdom, and a group of statues and paintings that chronicle fashions through the ages.
“The display is enriched with a collection of heritage and traditional fabrics showing the traditional costumes of Egyptians in modern times, specifically from north and south Sinai, Siwa, the Delta, Upper Egypt, and Nubia, and a unique collection of traditional costumes of farmers and Egyptian women,” Mabrouk said.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 14 April, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.