Traditional Egyptian craftsmanship shines at Cairo’s biggest pottery festival

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A craftsman shows pottery items during a pottery exhibition at Fustat pottery village in Cairo, Egypt, on July 3, 2022. (Xinhua/Xinhua)


People color pottery items during a pottery exhibition at Fustat pottery village in Cairo, Egypt, July 3, 2022. (Xinhua/Xinhua)

People color pottery items during a pottery exhibition at Fustat pottery village in Cairo, Egypt, July 3, 2022. (Xinhua/Xinhua)

A craftsman makes pottery during a pottery exhibition at Fustat pottery village in Cairo, Egypt, on July 3, 2022. (Xinhua/Xinhua)

A craftsman makes pottery during a pottery exhibition at Fustat pottery village in Cairo, Egypt, on July 3, 2022. (Xinhua/Xinhua)

A craftsman colors pottery during a pottery exhibition at Fustat pottery village in Cairo, Egypt, July 3, 2022. (Xinhua/Xinhua)

A craftsman colors pottery during a pottery exhibition at Fustat pottery village in Cairo, Egypt, July 3, 2022. (Xinhua/Xinhua)

The great gate of the pottery village of Fustat looked like an entrance to a unique world of traditional craftsmanship, where dozens of highly artistic objects were displayed during the biggest pottery festival in Cairo, the Egyptian capital.

Titled Clay Jewelers, the three-day festival, which ended on Tuesday, featured a variety of pottery and ceramic works, such as handmade pots, mugs, teacups, bowls and vases. handmade, both for home use and for decoration.

“I have been working in pottery for 60 years since my childhood. I do both clay shaping and clay mold designing,” Youssef Mohamed Taha told Xinhua.

“I am happy to see many visitors during the festival,” said the 75-year-old pottery veteran.

Located south of Cairo, the village has been famous for decades for the production of handcrafted pottery.

It was transformed into the new Fustat Pottery Village at the end of 2021 as a tourist attraction under the government’s development plan for Cairo’s old quarters and handicrafts support strategy.

“The development of the pottery village is a leap forward for us as artisans. It is great to feel that the village is receiving attention and attention from the government,” Taha told Xinhua.

The renovated village, home to more than 150 pottery workshops, is considered the Egyptian center of traditional pottery.

The basic material used by these workshops for making pottery is clay from Aswan in Upper Egypt and natural colors.

“I inherited the craft from my father and studied pottery and its history,” said Mohamed Khalil Mandour, a 29-year-old potter, adding that the festival helps promote the village and its products.

As one of the oldest crafts dating back to predynastic times in ancient Egypt, pottery also conveys ancient history as do wall carvings, Mandour said.

Apart from exhibiting pottery items, the festival also provided fun experiences for visitors to make and color pottery items by themselves.

Nader Mahrous, owner of a pottery workshop, had dozens of children learning to make pottery at his stall as part of the festival activities.

“This is an initiative to promote craftsmanship to new generations. We have divided it into two parts: one for shaping clay and the other for coloring,” explained Mahrous, noting that a free training course will be offered to children who have talents.

“The development of the village by the government, the establishment of a pottery school and this festival itself are signs of a hopeful rebirth here,” said the owner of the pottery workshop.

Marilyn Musaad, a young woman who visited the village with her friends, had a great time at the festival.

“I made this ashtray. I liked the experience but it’s really, really hard,” she laughed.

Ahmed el-Rouby, a 26-year-old visitor, said he felt so excited about all the handicrafts in the village that he “really liked” them.

“I saw these exhibits and the actual process of making them during the festival. It was also nice to see them teaching children and adults who are interested in pottery,” the young man told Xinhua.

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