Creations of skilled artisans from Upper Egypt

Ghada Abdel-Kader , Sunday 5 Dec 2021

The Association of Upper Egypt for Education and Development (AUEED) held the annual Akhmim and Hagaza exhibition at its headquartering in Daher neighborhood in Cairo. It opens 10am to 8 pm daily. It will last until 12 December.

Handmade wooden products from Hagaza village (All photos by Ghada Abdel-Kader)

The exhibition features various creative handmade textiles and wooden craving products from the two famous Akhmin and Hagaza villages in Upper Egypt.

It is a good opportunity for handmade lovers to get familiar with the Egyptian heritage beauty and culture of Upper Egypt and buying these masterpieces at convenient prices.


There is a wide selection of Akhmim embroidery hand-woven textiles and home décor products in the exhibition such as embroidered tableaus wall hangings, tablecloths, napkins, cushions, curtains, shawls, handbags, rugs, coverlets, quilts and bed sheets. There is vast collection handmade woodcarving products from Hagaza village in the exhibition are like kitchen tools, cookware, accessories and toys.

“AUEED is an NGO working in Upper Egypt until now. It was established in 1940. It targets the poor families in local communities in Upper Egypt (Minya, Assiut, Sohag, Qena and Luxor governorates),” Magdi Michel El- Gemayel, AUEED’s General Manager, says.

“The association gives loans for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to support young people to create their own small business,” El- Gemayel adds.

“This annual exhibition has been held since the early of 60s on regular basis until now. This is the fourth generation of women artisans from Akhmim village,” Loula Labhham, Akhmin Project Director in AUEED tells Ahram Online


A total of 150 breadwinner women participated in this exhibition, including wool weavers on looms, weavers, spinners of the threads, embroideries, artists and all related professions.

“All the fabrics are hand-woven made of highest quality 100 percent pure Egyptian cotton and hand-woven. We are dyeing colors of the fabrics to produce required quality that is not altered by wash or heat,” Labhham confirms.

“This year, we reduce the products’ cost to lower the selling prices to attract larger number of new customers and visitors,” She adds.

Akhmim project in Sohag governorate is one of the main developing projects of AUEED. It was launched in 1960. Half the society is women. The poverty rate was very high.

AUEED association works in fields of education, development programmes (skills development, vocational trainings for crafts and raising cultural awareness) and healthcare fields,” Mina Adel, AUEED Media representative says.

“It aims women’s empowerment in Akhmim village by improving their living standard. It also provides job opportunities and increases their incomes. At the same time, it revives and preserves these unique arts from extinction,” Labhham explains.

Big majority of artisans are uneducated and are living simple life. They did not study art. They are talented by nature the design and painting are the artist’s own choice. They started practicing this art at the age of 19 to above 65.

Adel explained that this kind of art is called ‘spontaneous art’. A woman artisan depicts vivid scenes in her drawings from situations in her ordinary daily lives and natural scenery such as wedding party, henna night, eid celebration valleys, palm tree, trees, the bank of river, dovecote and birds..etc.  


One of the exhibitors is artisan Reda Fouad, 55, from the village of Akhmim in Sohag governorate. “I love this art. I never get bored. It is relaxing and inspiring activity,” Fouad says. She has been working weaver on loom since she was 15 years old. Afterwards, she begins handmade embroidered tableau from A to Z.  

She is a mother of one daughter. She works from home in her spare time. “The time it takes depends on the drawing and the size of it. Sometimes, it takes six months or a year to do a tableau depending on the spare time I have,” Fouad adds.

“All handmade wooden products from Hagaza village are made from Asersus trees and very few pieces from Kaya trees,” Bahaa Farouk, who is responsible for woodwork industry in Hagaza’s workshop.

“No products have any chemical materials. Only polish it with olive oil for shiny finish and full protection from any sort of deterioration,” Farouk adds. AUEED has vocational training and sculpture on wood workshop in Hagaza village. It targets young men and male youth at the age of 17-35.

They trained on sculpturing on wood production from start until the end. Afterwards, artisans can make his own business or association help him in buying and selling his products in different exhibitions, bazaars, or events AUEED participated in.

Asersus tree is one of the best wood qualities in the world. It has beautiful pattern, curved lines shapes with white and brown variant colors.

It is characterized by being too heavy, closed pores, dense and unbreakable. It is widely used in boat industry due to the high durability and resilience.

It is perennial tree. The age of the tree is 100 or 200 years, and is planted in high temperature cities in south of Egypt areas like Edfu, Kom Ombo, Aswan, Luxor and Qena.

“We have to wait 100 or 200 years to cut down it down and use it. Association started to make forests to cultivate Asersus trees for the coming generation,” Farouk concludes.

About Akhmim and Hagaza:

Akhmim is a city in Sohag governorate of Upper Egypt. It is a small town at a distance of 450 km south of Cairo. It is located on the eastern bank of the River Nile. The ancient town has historical reputation with its skillful weavers and embroiderers since Pharaonic era.

Textiles production centre up to the present day. Handcrafters and artisans are masters in weaving industry, having their unique style of handmade embroideries, sewing and needle works.

Hagaza is a small village in Qena governorate. It is situated 700km South of Cairo and 30km to the North East of Luxor. It is listed among the most ancient villages of Egypt.

Woodwork is one of the main occupations known to the people of the village of Hagaza. The village is well known for its marvelous wood handicrafts and carpenters.

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