The Severed Strings of Tradition - The Situation Analysis

Posted by admin 05/02/2016 0 Comment(s)


Akhmim city, in Suhaj Governorate, was once home to an age old tradition of handcrafting unique textiles of superior texture and attractive colors. Its unique artwork has been discovered in several pharoanic cemeteries excavated in Akhmim, back in 1981. Its woven linens and cottons have found their way to ancient Greek and Roman gentry. To this day, European museums display the remains of beautiful tapestries produced in Akhmim, dated back to the Christian age. Weavers have been hard-hit in the last decades by the proliferation of mass produced textiles that are far cheaper in price, artwork and quality. Artisans failed to compete largely due to their inability to reach markets that would appreciate their artwork.

To produce cheaper textiles, low quality materials have replaced the materials that once made the work unique. To work faster and produce more units, patterns and styles have been compromised, simplified and standardized. Because of the shrinking income, maintenance and replacement of the looms became unaffordable. The working environment became poor and hardly conducive to any form of creativity and artistry. With the continued downward spiral of lost income, quality, and markets; craftsmen abandoned their trade. In the 1980s Akmim had a vibrant cluster of more than 4000 productive businesses employing tens of thousands of artisans and craftsmen. Today, this cluster has no more than 7 businesses that somewhat retain the tradition, selling their products to Luxor tourists and 150 struggling families, producing standard low quality products. In consequence, a heritage of high quality artistry that has passed down from one generation to the next, sustaining a community of thousands of craftsmen and material producers, is rapidly being severed. In the process, Akhmim community and businesses continue loosing incomes and livelihoods.