HANDS ON Traditional Crafts at The City of the Dead in Cairo

Kamal Hodhod

Kamal Hassan, known as Kamal Hodhod, learnt the profession through his father. His grandfather was among the very few people in Egypt who first worked in the glassmaking industry. Hassan used to go to work with his father after school every day, and it was here that his passion for the profession developed. His father and grandfather, Kamal claims, were much renowned among the people working in the glass-making craft. The products of his workshop include objects of everyday use such as glasses, plates and vases, and also decorative pieces such as stained glass for windows of ancient mosques, Islamic lanterns, and lamps. Kamal’s sister, who studies Fine Arts, engages in the profession by designing decorative motifs in calligraphic Arabic script. The workshop has been involved in conservation work at important monuments: the mosques of , Sultan Hassan, Khayr Bek, and The Blue Mosque, the latter two in Darb al-Ahmar. The retail shop attached to the workshop is located just across the square from the masterpiece of Mamluk-period architecture: the Mosque of Sultan al-Ashraf Qaitbey, so it is aptly named “Mamluk Factory.” The family rent the premises, which they renovated for their present use, from the antiquities authorities. This part of the Sultan’s huge complex is said to have originally housed stables.

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