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

Magdy, who carves Islamic geometric and floral patterns on brass and copper vessels, was introduced to the profession through an old friend in 1973. He was attracted by the patience and persistence that the trade requires, which fitted his disposition. He first worked in the Wikalat al-Ghuri, an artisanal cultural centre run by the Ministry of Culture. As soon as he fully learnt the profession, he moved to the Khan al-Khalili bazaar, then he came to the neighbourhood. He can be seen at work sitting outdoors on his stool in front of one of the mausoleums of the Qubbat Affendina complex in the Afifi area of the cemetery.


Osta (‘craft-master’) Magdy believes that his trade is close to extinction after the recent political turmoil. Another challenge is the stiff competition from the Chinese products that dominate in the market. The decrease in the number of tourists resulting from the disturbances after January 2011 seriously affected Magdy’s business. To bolster his income, he now sells some of his products in a small kiosk that he opened in the area.

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