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by REDEC NGO
In Egypt, wicker is one of the rural crafts that thousands of families used to depend on. “Wicker and Palm Leaves Weaving Industry” is an industry where the artisan takes advantage of the palm and its stumps, and because it’s an inexpensive in terms of raw material, It has spread all over Egypt wherever there were palm trees. One of the most famous cities for this craft is Siwa and Farafra, Dakhla and Kharga, Aswan and El-Arish, Fayoum, and Rasheed.
The idea is to simply find new designs for manual wickering since the goal is to preserve the industry because it is environment-friendly. The challenge lies in opening up new markets through the creation of innovative designs allowing the products to-be to emerge in local and international markets alike.
Fine artists and product designers, please, find us contemporary designs of traditional products or line of new products that depend primarily on wickering so we can open the door to new marketing manufacturers of Egyptian wickerers.
There are around thirteen million palm trees in Egypt (Ministry of Agriculture 2007) planted on 73,653 acres which represents 6.32% of the total fruit-cultivated land in Egypt.
The five Egyptian oases have what is equivalent to five million Palm distributed respectively between Bahariya Oasis, Dakhla Oasis, Kharga Oasis, after that comes Siwa and finally Farafra Oasis comes at the tail end of the list. While the remaining eight millions are distributed respectively in areas south of Giza (Badrasheen and Ayat), Qena, west of Aswan, Nubia, and in the area of Rashid and finally Fayoum region. Despite the widespread of palm trees across Egypt, you can find prosperous crafts based on palm products only in Dakhla Oasis, Fayoum, Nubia, Siwa.
Although in Dakhla Oasis such craft still upholds its local economic value in addition to a neglectable touristic value, you find the same products in Fayoum, Siwa and the Nuba have been confined to tourism marketing only although it’s extremely scarce due to recent folding events.
Women in these communities are famous for wickering and they do it alongside other daily housework and family chores. They don’t depend on it for living but they consider it as extra earnings for the house as a whole, unlike men who work with this industry and consider it their main profession and mean of living.
Wickering is basically dry palm fronds gathered and weaved in a manner of wide braiding that broadens or narrows depending on the production capacity. Palm fronds are intertwine with each other in the braid after they are exposed to the sun so much that they turn white.
Pulp of the wicker and it’s characterized by its small size and ease of set up and used to a certain type of production.
Palm leaves leftovers and it’s characterized by its roughness and lengthiness. They are immersed in water to moisten and become easy to shape. They are also colored not only in white or milky colour but many other different colours. The dyes used in colouring are available in local shops.
Dying starts by boiling water in a large bowl and the prefered dye is put inside and then the wicker is dropped and left for 5 minutes then lifted from the water and placed in the shade.
Wickering starts by making long consistent braid with perfect harmonized colours. The width depends on what you’ll produce from it, the wider the more wickers you have to use and the process becomes harder. After making wicker-braids they are shaped using a broad and long needle and black woolen thread for decoration.
Wicker baskets are usually made with round and relatively deep forms, and they vary in sizes. They are used in different purposes like transporting dates.
Magba or Makba is like a pyramid with baseless square or triangle base and it’s used to cover foods to keep away insects or dust.
Mahfa is similar in shape to funnel and it ranges in sizes from small to large. It’s used as a fan to calm the heat.
Mashab is a circular in shape, small in size and is used to keep the fire igniting especially during baking.
Grab takes a round shape, and somehow looks like modern cooking pots in depth and is usually used to preserve the dates while transferring them from one place to another.
Dmeada is also small pod made of palm fronds and dates are put in it.
Qawiyya is mainly used in Ramadan to weigh dates.
Mashanna is wicker basket attached to a long hand for the user to hang it around the neck and climb out on the palm to collect dates.
Sorood is a circular shape of wicker to place food on and it gets bigger or smaller depending on the family size. The Sorood has disappeared nowadays and it was replaced by tables.
Wicker hat is a large cap the farmer uses on his head while he is working in the field to protect himself from the sun.
Financial incentive from the Academy of scentific reasearch and technolgy
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