An Artist in Egypt
An Artist in Egypt
HODDER & STOUGHTON
NEW YORK & LONDON
I ENDEAVOURED, in a former book on Egypt, togive my first impressions while the glamour of theEast had not been dimmed by familiarity; and thekind reception of that, my first literary attempt, hasencouraged me to write again after spending someyears in the Nile Valley. Though first impressionsmay have a charm which familiarity lacks, it would beastonishing if a country so full of beauty, and of suchvaried interests as is Egypt, had caused familiarity tobreed contempt. I may safely say that it has not hadthat result. A lengthened stay has certainly added tomy experiences as well as to my stock of drawings,and I trust it has also given me some insight into thecharacter of the people amidst whom I dwelt.
Mediæval Cairo is doubtless year by year the poorerby many picturesque ‘bits’ which have vanished. ButCairo is a large city, and happily many years may elapsebefore artists will cease to go there for material. Whatis still untouched by the jerry builder, or has not beenallowed to fall into ruin, is probably more beautifulthan anything other oriental cities can show. Lesschange is seen in the smaller towns, and the villages aremuch the same in aspect as when the Saracen invadersfirst occupied the valley of the Nile.
Every season adds to the knowledge of AncientEgypt, and gives us something which for centuries layhid beneath the desert sands. It was my good fortuneto spend some winters at Thebes while some of themost interesting of recent discoveries were made,and through the courtesy of Mr. Weigall, the ChiefInspector of Upper Egypt, I was enabled to dwell anddo my work in these congenial surroundings. I havealso to thank him for the unique opportunities whichour desert journey, from the Nile to the Red Sea,offered; of all my experiences in Egypt, none hasgiven me more pleasure in recalling.
|RENEWAL OF MY ACQUAINTANCE WITH MOHAMMEDBROWN AND SOME REFLECTIONSON MATRIMONY||11|
|THE MOSQUE OF MURISTÂN KALAÛN, MY EXPERIENCEWITH THE FAKÍR, AND A DIGRESSIONON THE SUBJECT OF DERVISHES||22|
|THE FESTIVAL OF THE ‘HASANEYN’ AND THESTORY OF THE PRINCESS ZOHRA||31|
|OF THE OLD AND THE NEW CAIRO, AND OF AVISIT TO THE SHEYKH AMMIN SAHEIME||43|
|MY SECOND VISIT TO THE SHEYKH AND MY EXPERIENCESWITH AN UNFAITHFUL SERVANT||57|
|IN WHICH I GET ANOTHER SERVANT AND HUNTFOR A CROCODILE; ALSO A CONTINUATIONOF THE STORY OF PRINCESS ZOHRA||67|
|OF A CAIRO CAFÉ AND OTHER MATTERS||78|
|THE COPTIC CONVENTS OF WADI NATRUN||90|
|THE MOSQUE OF ES-SALIH TALAI||104|
|THE BLUE MOSQUE AND KASR-ESH-SHEMA||116|
|THE SPHINX, AND A DISSERTATION ON TOMMYATKINS||127|
|THE HAMSEEN, THE LAMP-SHOP, AND THEACCESSION OF SAID PASHA||136|
|MOHAMMEDAN FESTIVALS: THE HOLY CARPET—THEFAST OF RAMADAN AND THE ASHURA||151|
|MORE RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCES, SPRING’S AWAKENING,AND THE CAIRENE HOUSE OF COUNT ZOGHEB||170|
|DER EL-BAHRI, AND SOME INCIDENTS WHICHTOOK PLACE DURING MY STAY THERE||178|
|DER EL-BAHRI (continued)||194|
|THE CROSS DESERT JOURNEY TO KOSSEIR||206|
|THE VALLEY OF HAMMAMÂT||221|
|THE WADI FOWAKIYEH AND BÎR HAGI SULIMAN||231|
|EDFU AND THE QUARRIES OF GEBEL SILSILEH||258|
|MY EXPERIENCES AS AN INMATE OF A NATIVEHOSPITAL||270|
|THE SPHINX BY MOONLIGHT||Frontispiece|
|WATER MELON SELLER||8|
|AN ARAB WEDDING PROCESSION||16|
|A CHEAP RIDE||24|
|THE KHAN KHALIL, CAIRO||32|
|SUK ES-SELAH, CAIRO||48|
|ENTRANCE TO THE HAREEM||56|
|MOSQUE OF MOHAMMED BEY||72|
|A CAIRENE CAFÉ||80|
|THE TOMB OF SHEYKH ABD-EL-DEYM||88|
|THE BLUE MOSQUE||112|
|THE STORE OF NASSÁN||136|
|RETURN OF THE HOLY CARPET||144|
|A FRUIT-STALL AT BULAK||152|
|A THEBAN HOMESTEAD||168|
|THE BIRTH COLONNADE IN THE TEMPLE OFHATSHEPSU||184|
|A MARKET ON THE EDGE OF THE DESERT||208|
|THE TOMBS OF THE KHALIFS||216|
|THE MOSQUE AT KOSSEIR||232|
|DOORWAY IN THE TEMPLE OF ISIS||240|
|POTTERY BAZAAR IN A NILE VILLAGE||264|
|THE VILLAGE OF MARG||272|
AFTER a lapse of some years, I returned to Cairoto attempt once again to paint its ancient buildings,as well as the picturesque incidents seenin the shadows they cast or bathed in light againsttheir sunlit walls.
I made an early start on the first morning after myarrival, partly to look for a subject, and more particularlyto see whether the pictorial side of the old quarters ofthe city would still impress me as it did on my first visit.It was a fateful morning, for had what I saw failedto stir up my former enthusiasm, I was resolved to packup my traps, and try my hand in Upper Egypt.
I hurried along the Mousky as fast as its usualcrowd of people would allow, and turned down theKhordagiyeh to see if an old favourite subject of minehad not been ‘improved away.’
Needless to say, it was a brilliant morning, for theoccasional grey days of midwinter were still a long wayoff. Great awnings hung across the street, and on oneside the shopmen were lowering blinds or riggingup matting, in anticipation of the sun which wouldshortly be streaming down on them. Everything stillhad its summer look, though October was far spent;—and2Cairo, let me say, is much more beautiful in hotweather than during the comparatively chill days ofwinter.
The particular houses I had gone in search of werehappily untouched; but had they been restored out ofall shape or allowed to fall down for want of repair, Ishould hardly have had room for a depressing thought.
From the crowd of country folk and the heavilyladen camels and donkeys, it was evident that a marketwas being held in the open space in front of the Beit-el-Kadi.Locomotion was difficult till the Nahasseenor coppersmith street was reached, for here the roadwidens out at the Muristân. This handsome building,together with the mosques of Kalaûn, en-Nasir, and ofBarkûk, formed a magnificent group, massed as theythen were in a luminous shade. It was a meeting ofold friends, and old friends looking their best. Thedark awnings stretched across the road gave this pile ofmasonry a light and ethereal look, though they weredark in contrast to the azure above, save where the suntipped the domes and a face of the minarets.
The crowd allowed but little time for contemplation;I had to move with it, and reaching the short streetwhich leads to the Beit-el-Kadi, a converging stream ofpeople carried us along till we arrived at the marketsquare. I picked my way through the heaps of fruitand vegetables which littered the ground, passed behinda group of camels, and worked my way to the steps ofthe court-house, which gives its name to the market.From this point of vantage I was enabled to make somerough studies of the animated scene before me.
3The sun had now risen high enough to flood thelarger part of the square in light. Bits of matting, sailcloth,or anything which can cast a shadow, were riggedup to protect the more perishable goods, and the earlycomers had taken advantage of the shade of the acaciatrees at the further end of the market.
The general impression is one of light, colour, noiseand movement. The detail is full of human as wellas pictorial interest. Various combinations of colour—somebeautiful, some inharmonious—leave amplescope to the painter to arrange his scheme. A pile oforanges and lemons, with the black and deep purpledress of the fellaha saleswoman, make a striking note inthe foreground; the stacks of pitchers brought downfrom Balliana, in Upper Egypt, give a variety in buffsand greys, and the blue garments of the buyers aresufficiently faded not to contrast too violently. It is alsoa great study of types and characters. The noisy Caireneis chaffering with the quieter Shami from far Damascusfor some pomegranates which are heaped before him;the Maghraby hawks a bundle of yellow slippers; Jewand Greek are trying to outdo each other in a deal overa spavined horse.
Through the motley crowd passes the brightlygarmented lemonade-seller, tinkling his brass cups; hisrival, who retails licorice-water, seems more in demand;one, carrying a heavy pitcher with a long brass spout,invites the thirsty ones to partake of the charity offeredthem in the name of God. ‘Sebeel Alháh yá atchan,’he drones out at stated periods. He is less often metat markets than at religious festivals, and he is paid by4some visitor to the tomb of a saint to distribute the wateras a thank-offering.
A young camel about to be slaughtered is beingled about and sold piecemeal, intending purchaserschalking on the hide of the beast the joint they wishto secure.
The cheap-jack, with his usual flow of language,tempts the fellaheen to buy his European shoddy;Karakush, the Egyptian Polichinelli, is here, and alsothe quack doctor.
The effect is now rapidly changing as Bibar’s ancientpalace ceases to cast its shadow over the further part ofthe market, and my vantage-ground becomes untenableas the sun creeps round to the steps of the court-house.I work my way to the archway at the eastern side ofthe square, and find another picture here well worthgoing to Cairo to paint, for from this point I get a viewof the Muristân and the domes and minarets of itsadjacent mosques, now in the full noonday sun. Astately background to the busy scene before me.
The studies I had made of the market, though farfrom satisfying me, left me too tired to do more thanmake a few notes and a promise to come here again ona future occasion.
It is a relief, after the glare and noise of a similarsubject, to turn down the narrow dark lanes which arefound in the residential parts of Old Cairo. Theone entered from the archway winds through theHasaneyn quarter and ends at the eastern entrance ofthe Khan Khalil.
These lanes where the old houses are still intact5are even more characteristic of Cairo than are thebusy streets, for something similar to the latter can beseen in most eastern cities. The projecting latticedwindows, which relieve the plane surfaces of thebacks of the houses, are a distinct feature of this city.Known generally as mushrbiyeh, they were originallysmall bays in which the water-bottles were placedto cool. The word is derived from the root of theArabic shirib, to drink, from which we also get ourword sherbet.
The bays were gradually enlarged so as to allow twoor three people to sit in them and see up and downthe street without being seen themselves. What correspondsto a glass pane in Europe is here replaced by awooden grating. Each joint is turned, and so arrangedas to make a pretty pattern. This grating is muchcloser in the apartments of the hareem, and though itfreely admits the air and a sufficiency of light, it effectuallyscreens the inmates from those outside.
From the enlarged bays one or more smaller onesoften project in which the earthen bottles are nowplaced. There are also small windows in the lowerpanels, through which I have often seen