traveling alone, with your significant other, friends or with your
children, there's plenty of entertainment in Egypt to enjoy in your free
time. During day time you can visit some shops & factories.
One trip to Egypt is
enough to know that one of the grandest treasures that remains are the
people, and the hand made products they produce are the best you can
find and see in Egypt. There are many varieties of hand made products,
including such items as alabaster objects, painted papyrus, brass and
glassware, among others. Nevertheless, there are some products people
say are hand made but in fact, are not. However, glass perfume bottles
are exclusively hand blown, becoming beautiful works of pure art.
Shopping is also one of the most
accessible options to fill in gaps on your holiday schedule. You'll find
anything you're looking for in traditional
modern shopping malls and exclusive boutiques.
Egypt is a wonderland of shopping
opportunities. Of course, there are the famous bazaars such as the Khan
but then there are also thousands of unusual stores scattered about the
country, and especially in Cairo, though some products are better
purchased perhaps from the locale from which they are produced, such as
However, Cairo provides a huge variety of everything from antiques to
fine clothing and especially jewelry.
In some shops, you must haggle while in
others the price will be set. Which type of store provides the best
possible deals depends both on the shop itself and the haggling ability
of the buyer an seller. Frequently though some of the best deals at the
best consistent quality is found in stores with fixed prices. For
example, one might haggle over a mother-of-pearl box in the Khan el-Khalili
and wind up paying a fairly low price but for an inferior product, while
in a fixed price shop, one might end up paying more, but for a far
superior mother-of-pearl box.
The purpose for this section is to
provide (Egyptian Trip) readers with information both on how to shop in
Egypt, as well as to enlighten them on how to tell what makes various
products better or worse from the standpoint of quality. Of course, for
those not traveling to Egypt, our Virtual Khan el-Khalili,
Tour Egypt's online shop provides many quality products found in Egypt
at reasonable prices.
2- Egyptian Oil
3- Egyptian Glass
on the Street of the Tentmakers
6- Basketry, Ancient
7- Belly Dancing
8- Egyptian Brass
9- Egyptian Cotton
Products in Egypt
11-Gold Jewelry in
Now we will focus on some products
Few tourists to
Egypt probably leave the country without at least one papyrus painting.
It is easy to carry onto airplanes, and relatively inexpensive to
purchase. The problem is, do they really leave with true papyrus, or a
cheep imitation? Will the paint hold up, or quickly flake off? There are
several issues that people should understand when buying papyrus art in
Egypt or elsewhere, and here, we attempt to examine what constitutes
fine, quality papyrus art.
Thanks to modern
technology, when I started school and needed to use paper, I simply went
to the store and purchased some note books. It was cheap, but that is
obviously not how things have always worked. Not until the Chinese
invented pulp paper, and in their interaction with those people did the
Arabs also learn the process, did paper become readily available. Though
the art of writing was probably first invented in Mesopotamia (Ancient
Iraq), and later developed by the Egyptians in the 4th Century BC,
initially a good portable medium was not available. The ancients began
writing upon stones, bones, the barks of trees and textiles,
but with the
expanding practice of writing, more practical materials were needed.
Thus, from the stalks of the papyrus plant that grew wild in marshy
areas of the Nile, the Egyptians developed papyrus paper (see
effectively an Egyptian monopoly and its manufacture was a guarded
secret. Indeed, the papyrus plant became a symbol of Lower Egypt,
and was regarded as so typically Egyptian that it could be regarded
as a metaphor for the entire country.
the invention of pulp paper, papyrus slowly disappeared from use,
even in Egypt. Because it was no longer a viable commercial product,
as farming came to the Nile Delta, its even disappeared from the
Papyrus making was not revived until around 1969. At that time, an
Egyptian scientist named Dr.
reintroduced the papyrus plant to Egypt from the Sudan and started a
papyrus plantation near Cairo on Jacob Island. He also had to
research the method of production. Unfortunately, the ancient
Egyptians left little evidence about the manufacturing process.
There are no extant texts or wall paintings and archaeologists have
failed to uncover any manufacturing centers. Most of our knowledge
about the actual manufacturing process is derived from its
description in Pliny the elder's Natural History and modern
experimentation. Dr. Ragab
finally figured out how it was done, and now papyrus making is back
in Egypt after a very long absence.We
should note that Dr. Hassan
Ragab had a remarkable career
with over 42 inventions credited to his name as an engineer. After
World War II, he also served time in Washington, DC as Egypt's
military attach and later became the first Egyptian ambassador to
China, with other ambassadorial posts to Italy and Yugoslavia.
is mostly used for decorative art, and though most of it is sold to
tourists, it is even somewhat popular in Egyptian homes. However,
rarely do we find what might be termed "museum replica" papyrus. We
might find an example of an early medical papyrus hanging on the
walls of a doctor's office, but for the most part, the extant
ancient papyri found in museums and specific papyrus collections is
not very decorative or interesting in and of itself. Hence, modern
papyri are usually adorned with more colorful subject mater.
papyrus material vary considerably. Our personal favorites are
accurately portrayed scenes, usually duplicating to a high degree
the wall paintings from ancient tombs and temples, as well as from
early Christian churches and monasteries when papyrus was still in
use. However, paintings on papyrus may include more stylistic themes
from ancient Egypt, and we can find examples of almost any subject
mater, including modern art.
There are a
number of quality considerations when purchasing papyrus art.
Perhaps the two most important issues are the material and the
quality of the art itself.
By material, we
refer to the fact that a considerable amount of "papyrus" purchased
in Egypt is not papyrus at all. On the streets of Cairo such as in
front of the Eyyptian Antiquities Museum and at other popular
tourist attractions, much of the art sold as papyrus is actually
made from the banana stalk. Other materials used to simulate papyrus
include corn husks, potatoes, eggplant, carrot and a few other
are a few ways to distinguish real papyrus from these forgeries.
True papyrus is usually heavier in weight, strong, difficult to tear
and somewhat opaque (though certainly not always). There are a
number of stores, for example, near the Egyptian museum that does
sell true papyrus and before purchasing a sample on the street, it
might be advisable to visit one of these shops for comparison. The
light colored papyrus has different colors or degrees of brown and
one can see the veins clearly in the light. Unpainted sheets can be
somewhat crunched though will retain their "memory" and thus return
to a flat sheet. Of course, crushing painted papyrus is not a good
idea because of the paint itself. Furthermore, reputable papyrus
vendors stamp their merchandize with the store stamp to guarantee
authenticity of the product. Obviously, one of the best means of
making sure that true papyrus is purchased is to buy it from a
reputable shop, as opposed to a street vendor.
times, there were certainly different levels of quality in papyrus
paper. The best of the paper was made from the innermost material of
the papyrus stalk. However, today most papyrus is of a similar
grade, though there can be a few difference, and a number of
different styles. In some papyrus manufacturing, the strips are
placed alternating vertical and horizontal, while in others, one
layer is all vertical and the next is all horizontal. Of these, the
second method provides the smoother surface for painters.
True papyrus is
usually painted and not printed by machine, as one finds with fake
papyrus, "Papyrus" made from other materials is frequently
discernable by its cheep appearance, including flaking of the
painted surface. Some artists paint true papyrus completely by hand
using a light table to ease their job. Others, and especially with
when painting on large sheets, may use a silk screen process for
drawing the outlines and then finish the rest of the painting by
hand. However, it has been mentioned (by one vendor during
interviews for this article) that real papyrus may sometimes be
printed using an inkjet color printer after smoothing the sheet very
little if any true papyrus is machine printed, one can often tell
the difference between machine and hand painted papyrus, which can
also help distinguish true from fake papyrus. Vendors use printing
machines for fast work, and apparently there is "bleeding" that
occurs. Hence, with machine work, edges may overlap to some extent.
With hand painted papyrus, the paint remains within the lines and
does not overlap the outlines of the artwork as does machine
Also, all hand
painted papyrus is signed by the artist.
cost of "papyrus" artwork can vary considerably; almost infinitely.
On the street in Cairo, cheap, normal size papyrus can be had for as
little as a couple of dollars (or even less, if one visits the
vendors in front of the Egyptian Antiquities Museum near closing
time). From there, good true papyrus may range in price to several
hundred dollars (USD)
when purchasing work by artists such as Dr.
or very large papyrus paintings.
The word perfume
is derived from the Latin perfume, meaning "through smoke." The art
of perfumery was known to the ancient Chinese, Hindus, Egyptians,
Israelites, Carthaginians, Arabs, Greeks, and Romans. References to
perfumery materials and even perfume formulas are found in the
Bible. The burning of incense in religious rites of ancient China,
Palestine, and Egypt led gradually to the personal use of perfume
known as attars, widespread in ancient Greece and Rome. During the
Middle Ages Crusaders brought knowledge of perfumery to Europe from
the East. After 1500 Paris was the major center of perfume-making.
Myrrh was the
most popular herb used for producing essential oils...
Egyptians were first to master the art of aromatherapy. Many of the
systems and methods followed by them have influenced aroma
therapists down the ages.
After 3,300 years, when King Tutankhamen's tomb was opened in 1922,
litres of oil were discovered
in alabaster jars. Plant waxes had solidified in a thickened
inside of the container opening, leaving the liquefied oil in
excellent condition and fragrance still detectable.
a history going back to 4500 years, Scholars and Teachers believe
Aromatics were the first medicines used by the Egyptians.
Imotep the Architect was also
the father of Medicine and healing The Ancient Egyptians were the
first (in recorded history) to have widely used aromatherapy in
their daily. The Egyptians were the first to discover that
fragrances are effective and can be used for religious practices,
illness treatments and other physical and spiritual needs. They used
essential oils, herbs, perfumed oils and spices extensively in skin
care, body massage and to cleanse physical impurities.
Today Egypt is
still a major trading center for the perfume industry. We have
teamed up with the best perfume trading houses in Egypt and are
excited about being able to offer popular and timeless classic
perfumes at affordable prices.
difference between perfume oils and perfume?
Please do not
confuse these perfume oils with cologne or essential oils. Pure
perfume oils are far more sophisticated than perfume with fillers.
Never offensive or overpowering, long lasting and balanced.
Is Better For You
jewelry, pure perfume oils vary tremendously in quality. We have put
an incredible amount of time and effort into selecting the best
possible quality pure perfume oils. Pure perfume oils are truly
what the designer of the fragrance had in mind when it was created.
We have relaxing
oils for people who may be stressed, or people who are ill either
mentally or physical, releasing these fragrances into the air or
using them for aromatherapy will bring about comfort and a sense of
Oils help with a
wide range of emotions like sadness, loneliness, grief, depression,
anxiety, nervous tension, fear, anger, despair, insecurity. Bringing
you happiness and peace.
Oil is healing
once used correctly, Oils to enhance meditation, and Spiritual
Staying power of
Oils last on
most people up to 12 to 24 hours - depending on your body
chemistry. Unlike perfumes with fillers added - which have a normal
shelf life of 6 to 18 months, pure perfume oils keep their fragrance
year after year.
Glass Perfume Bottles
earliest times, Egyptians have worked with glass, and even prior to
their capacity to actually produce this substance, they used a
limited amount of natural glass produced through volcanic action or
meteorite impacts in various jewelry and decorative effects.
begins by firing the glass and shaping the various pieces of the
perfume bottle. In some instances, several artists may in fact work
on the same perfume bottle each blowing a different part of the
design. The fire, which heats the glass to a very high temperature
of 1000 C using pressurized oxygen, makes the glass very flexible.
At this point, the glass is almost liquid.
Using a number
of small tools, the glass is constantly rotated as the artist blows
air through it quickly and precisely to achieve an exact shape.
Afterwards, another craftsman, with very different handicraft
skills, takes over the bottle in order to engrave the shaped glass
with designs. Extra care is required in cutting into the strong but
third craftsman may apply coloring to the perfume bottle. Most of
the colors, with the exception of gold, are imported either from
Germany or Turkey. Some very beautiful effects may be applied, while
solid colored bottles will be turned on a rotating wheel to
distribute the colors smoothly and evenly without leaving marks or
uneven streaks of color. Bottles with scenes or floral decorations
are painted by hand. On better bottles, gold will next be applied.
This is 12 ct liquid gold, which requires care in its application.
Some bottles have gold colored paint and so are less expensive, but
also inferior to and less brilliant than their counterparts painted
with real gold.
coloring and hand painting process is completed the bottles are put
into an oven with a temperature near 500 and 650 C for about half an
hour to bake or set the color on the glass so that it is permanent.
Bigger bottles may take a few hours in the oven before the color is
set. Only after this firing do all the decorative effects become
visible. After the bottles are removed from the oven, they need to
be left out to cool. This is the last step before they are sent to
the stores to be presented for sale.
bottles come in a variety shapes, colors, and sizes, from the very
small to extra large. We may find perfume bottles in abstract
designs, or in the shape of many physical objects such as a variety
of animals. There is also, it seems, an infinite variety of stoppers
from simple tear drop shapes to intricate fish and birds. However,
other glass objects made in the same manner are also available, such
as candlestick holders and oil burners.
bottles themselves may, at times, be badly formed and lean to one
side or the other. These are obvious in shops, but if buying
Egyptian perfume bottles on-line or by mail order, it is important
to deal with a reputable company in order to avoid such flaws. Also,
bottles painted with true gold are fairly easy to distinguish from
those decorated with gold colored paint, for they will lack the
brilliance of the former.
Always check the
plunger within the stopper. These may not be very long, but they
should not be broken off with sharp edges, a common problem found on
even very fine perfume bottles after having been shipped. Also, be
sure to carefully inspect the top of tear shaped stoppers, as the
very upper edge can sometimes be damaged.
The best way to
keep the bottle as safe as possible during shipping is to wrap it in
a bubble wrap or cotton within a cardboard box. However, it should
be noted that perfume bottles made of Pyrex are fairly strong.
4 - Egyptian
If you are not
planning to go to Egypt, you can still purchase fine, hand carved
alabaster as well as "oriental alabaster in our on-line store.
The use of
alabaster in Egypt dates well back into the Pharaonic period of
Egyptian history, and this is very evident when one visits the
temples, tombs and museums in Egypt. New pieces of alabaster from
ancient Egypt seem to turn up constantly.
ancient pharaohs used this wonderful material for many purposes,
including household items, ritual objects, and for a number of
different funerary purposes such as sarcophaguses and
canopic equipment. Some of
the finest ancient artifacts made from alabaster can be found in the
Tutankhamun collection of the
Egyptian museum, where we find a variety of different items made
from this material.
"Alabaster is a fine-grained, massive, translucent variety of
gypsum, a hydrous calcium
sulphate. It is pure white or
streaked with reddish brown. Like all other forms of gypsum,
alabaster forms by the evaporation of bedded deposits that are
precipitated mainly from evaporating seawater. It is soft enough to
be scratched with a fingernail and hence it is easily broken,
soiled, and weathered. Because of its softness, alabaster is often
carved for statuary and other decorative purposes. The often-used
term "Oriental Alabaster" is a misnomer and actually refers to
marble, a calcium carbonate, whereas gypsum is a calcium
So we do know
two different kinds of Alabaster, including the gypsum kind, which
is used mainly for pure hand-made products and the "Oriental
Alabaster" which is a much harder stone, similar to marble, and
which today is only used for machine-made products."1
Egypt alabaster is found in two places, a few miles behind the
Valley of the Kings in
(ancient Thebes) and the Malawi area, each vein of alabaster has its
own unique color and characteristic. It is found in nature in bulky,
irregular shapes, in different sizes and at variable depths, mixed
with other materials like marls or clay which protect the alabaster
from other exterior agents.
Though it is
beautiful, the machine made products lack the character and
translucence of the hand made alabaster. Because the machines do not
have the sensitivity of the artist, the machine made products are
thicker and heavier. The machines also provide the highly polished
surface. The color most often found in machine made items is
generally yellowish to butterscotch with white. As does the
handmade, it comes in a variety of shapes and sizes.
alabaster, one must make a close inspection, including feeling the
piece. It should have somewhat of a waxy feel, be very translucent,
light and the color of white or cream with veins of a dark red. Be
aware that any richly vibrant colored items sitting along side the
alabaster is probably soapstone that has been dyed, not alabaster as
some dealers will inform you. Also, in hand made alabaster, look for
wax deposits. Wax is sometimes used to correct imperfections either
in the stone or the workmanship, and particularly on the inside of
the object, so avoid such pieces where there are substantial wax
deposits within the item. Though hand made alabaster is certainly
not completely smooth, look for even walls on the object, with even
carving and fine carving.
Also, the veins
of color in the alabaster are natural, and they do not weaken the
product unless one can feel a break. Often, the dealer will refer to
such a crack as a vein. The true colored veins give the alabaster a
very special beauty with mixed colors, but they must not be breaks.
one searches, most products in Egypt are available everywhere.
However, some items, such as hand carved alabaster, are more
prominent in specific locations. While these items may be purchased
in Cairo, they will perhaps be less expensive in
where much of it is made.
alabaster, care of the item is not difficult, though it must be
handled with some care, as any such object. For cleaning, it is
beast to simply use water and cloth, while avoiding the use of
colored cleaning liquids as they can leave spots especially on the
inside of some machine made products because they are porous and not
protected by wax. Water itself will work fine, and will leave no
residue. Obviously, a dishwasher should never be used to clean