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

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Sayed Afifi

Sayed decorates brass and copper vessels with silver inlays. He has been working for the past 35 years in the profession, to which he was introduced by his elder brother. He was 13 years old when he began working in the Raba’ al-Makwa section of the Khan El-Khalili bazaar. Later, he owned a shop there, but due to a sharp increase in rents, he moved seven years ago to the Qaitbey area, where he now owns a small shop behind the historic complex of Sultan Barsbay’s buildings.

 

Sayed makes primarily decorative fittings for tables, chairs, lamps, and caskets. He appreciates the creative aspect of his trade, but finds it difficult to make a decent income from it. In his workshop he turns the raw material supplied by an intermediary agent into finished products that he sells at a base price to the middleman who distributes them on the market and skims the profit; very little remains for the craftsman. Sayed wonders how a creative trade can be put to good use in bringing a rewarding income.