Ancient Egyptian Tentmaking Displayed in New Exhibit

‘Stitch Like an Egyptian: Tentmakers of Cairo’ is a new exhibit showcasing the intricate, ancient art of Egyptian tentmaking. Brought to the U.S. by the American Quilter’s Society, the project hopes to “make the world aware of the beautiful yet shrinking art,” according to the The exhibit’s curator is Jenny Bowker, an international textile artist.

Modern technology has pushed the art to the side as machines and computers are built to replace manual labor and hand-made items. Unique designs are thus copied and resold by businesses around the world. The American Quilter’s Society has taken action to increase interest and appreciation of these traditional appliques.

Bonnie Browning, Executive Show Director for AQS, explained: “We began a three-continent collaboration to make arrangements for ‘Stitch Like an Egyptian: Tentmakers of Cairo’ to debut at the AQS Quilt Show in Grand Rapids.”

The exhibit’s artists include Hosam Hanafy Ahmed Mahmoud and Tarek Abdelhay Hafez Abouelenin, who will be on hand to explain and demonstrate their technique. The tentmakers are from Khan Khayamiya, the market of the trade in Old Islamic Cairo. Their skills and techniques have been passed down through many generations. In fact, “There were tents found in Pharaonic tombs from 2,000 B.C… There are pictures in the Rameses panels are Abu Simbel of tents lined up,” said curator Jenny Bowker.

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