In Upper Egypt, on the Nile’s eastern river bank, lies the city of Akhmim. This ancient city has been known as a center for hand woven textiles since the Pharaonic era, when their weavings were specifically made to adorn the royal palaces of the kings. Akhmim’s renowned reputation for hand-loomed cotton and linen remained during the Roman, Coptic and Islamic eras until today.
Some of the present day textile workshops are just steps away from the archeological site of the Ramses Temple, forever linking today’s craft to the ancient times. Akhmim holds a weekly textile market, where local weavers sell primarily galabeyas and shawls, worn by men in the Egyptian countryside.
The textile industry in Egypt provides a lifeline to thousands of families, from the farmers growing and harvesting the raw cotton, to the women spinning the fibers into yarn, to the workshops naturally dying the different colors, and eventually the weavers crafting blankets, pillowcases and more.
With the Egyptian markets now crowded with mechanized textiles, the textile weavers of Akhmim feel the pressure. They strive to preserve their craft, their traditions and the dignity of the manual loom amid the loud ring of technology and international trade.