Many of us have stitched our family history with needle and thread or have stitched a story about a cause that has meaning to us into our quilts. Well, the Tentmakers of Cairo stitch stories into their work, too. In this appliquéd piece, you can see that one bird in the tree faces left and all of the other birds face right. Jenny Bowker told me the story that goes with this piece:
“In ancient Egypt, death belonged on the west of the Nile–the side where the sun set. Life belonged on the right side. All cemeteries, tombs, and funerary temples were on the West of the Nile–like the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, the Valley of the Nobles (which is a hill), and so on. Tomb paintings with birds always show other birds looking to the right while the hoopoe looks to the viewer’s left; and sometimes the Nile is shown as a vertical zigzag under the tree to show that it is on one side of the Nile. Because of this, the hoopoe is sometimes seen as a bad omen –a symbol of death.”
AQS has several pieces of the Tentmakers appliqué art available for sale. You can also find the Egyptian art on exhibit and for sale at all our 2014 QuiltWeek® events. To purchase the appliqué art from our site: CLICK HERE. To find out more information about AQS QuiltWeek Events, CLICK HERE.
Kim Beamish, an Australian film maker, has filmed a documentary on the Tentmakers, their history, and the outside influences that are affecting their work today. The Tentmakers of Chareh El Khiamiah is a feature length documentary about a small street of Egyptian textile workers adapting to the consequences of the 25 January Egyptian revolution. CLICK HERE to see a short video featuring Hosam (who has attended several AQS QuiltWeek events); you can make contributions to help fund the making of this documentary there, too.
Add an international touch to your appliqué with designs from the Tentmakers of Cairo in their book, The Ancient Art of Appliqué: Patterns from the Tentmakers of Cairo. Based on ancient Egyptian art and architecture from buildings, tombs, and scrolls, they have put together 18 designs that will enhance traditional or modern appliqué quilts. CLICK HERE to find out more about their publication.
By Bonnie Browning