Photographic Exhibiton at The World Heritage Site Visitor Centre: Tentmakers of Islamic Cario


The Italian photographer, Massimiliano Fusari, noted for his work on Middle Eastern themes, recently spent several months in the Tentmakers Suq (bazaar) in Cairo. He has produced a vivid and sensitive photographic record of the daily work and physical environment of the tentmakers. Arresting images capture the tentmakers at work as stitchers and sellers, the medieval street on which they work and its larger changing neighbourhood, and the uses of the textiles in Cairene life. Massimiliano Fusari is a photojournalist and multimedia consultant currently working as a Research Associate at Durham University. He has a background of more than 20 years as a researcher and practitioner in the theory and practice of photography and multimedia communication, with expertise on the Muslim world. His PhD research focuses on how to prioritise distinct media platforms to reach diverse audiences and maximise public impact in multi-cultural communication. ‘Massimedia’ ( is his laboratory, providing media consultancy on photojournalism and multi-audience projects. 

Find out more here >>



"The Tentmakers of Cairo Exhibit - Stitch Like An Eqyptian" had 95 quilts displayed and two of the artists were on site actually doing their applique stitching.  Men are usually the artists, working by themselves or in tentmaker shops.  The designs are often geometric and revolve outward around a center. The patterns are taken from medieval Mosque floors and other decorations, scenes found in tombs of the Pharaos and antique calligraphy.  Originally these hangings were meant to decorate interior tent walls.  A plain canvas backing and multiple layers of applique on a colored cotton background add to the weight of each piece.

Read more of Chocolate City Quilters blog here >>

Tentmakers of Cairo Return to United States for AQS QuiltWeek® – Phoenix, Arizona 2014


The American Quilter’s Society is pleased to present the debut of Stitch Like an Egyptian at AQS QuiltWeek® – Phoenix, Arizona 2014 from February 5 to 8, 2014. Counted among the most celebrated fiber artists of this decade, the Tentmakers of Cairo return to the United States with 130 pieces of appliqué artistry. Each piece is handmade in Cairo, Egypt, specifically for exhibition in the United States and will be available for purchase at the event.

Find out more here >>

Tentmakers of Egypt—an art form strives to survive.

Photo by Peggy Bright

Photo by Peggy Bright

Back in 1976, when I first arrived, many of Cairo’s festivities were liberally decorated with tent hangings. These enormous appliqués—with their bold colours and geometric designs—were used to create the walls and ceilings of celebratory spaces.


Master quilter brings wares to Egyptian Embassy for open day.

  Photo: Graham Tidy

 Photo: Graham Tidy

The ancient craft of Egyptian tent-making maybe revered in the West for its intricate applique, but in Egypt, its considered simple, common, and often no better than graffiti.

But a master quilter and wife of former Australian ambassador to Egypt is on a one-woman crusade to change all that.

Jenny Bowker, who spent four years in Cairo when her husband Bob was posted there between 2005-2009, said the appetite for the massive handmade artworks was growing internationally.

Cairo's Khayamiya Not Yet History, But For How Long?

"Amm" Salah and vanishing Khayamiya trade (Abu-Fadil)

"Amm" Salah and vanishing Khayamiya trade (Abu-Fadil)

I recently found out Amm (Uncle) Salah, Cairo's famous tentmaker artisan, died some years ago, and that his daughter Mona carried on the tradition privately from her home until she moved away to Abu Dhabi.

It gave me a sinking feeling that another handicraft in Egypt was biting the dust due to unrest in the country, a suffering tourism industry, and decades-long competition from the Indian subcontinent.


Read more of this Huffington Post article by Magda Abu-Fadil here >>

Help AQS support the Tentmakers of Cairo

Some of the Tentmakers of Cairo with Jenny Bowker & Bonnie Browning. May 2012.

Some of the Tentmakers of Cairo with Jenny Bowker & Bonnie Browning. May 2012.

Did you know that the American Quilter’s Society is the exclusive U.S. representative for sales of the works of all 18 shops known as The Tentmakers of Cairo? For the next three years, AQS has guaranteed a steady stream of work & orders to exhibit and sell the art in the United States. Never in the history of this type of artwork have the stitchers & designers known that they have a steady stream of income!

Egyptian Appliqué?

Mr T has this piece of appliqué on the back of the study door for over 20 years!! My husband acquired it when he was helping clear out a props cupboard at the school where he was teaching and rescued it from the bin.  He was told it had been used in a school play many years before that, and presumed one of the teachers had made it. We rather liked it and hung it on the door, which is where it has stayed.  As the door is usually open, I must say I don't notice it any more.

Shopping, Cairo-Style with Rick Steves

"... Khan el-Khalili is just a springboard for wandering deeper into Islamic Cairo. (That's "Islamic" as opposed to the more European-feeling, French- and British-designed streets that make up the modern downtown.) My favorite areas to explore were along Souk el-Selah street, the "Street of the Tentmakers" (Chareh el-Khiamiah), and the gate named Bab Zuela."

The Tentmakers of Cairo on WKMS Radio

Tens of thousands of visitors will be in our region to view the contemporary art of quilting in a myriad of styles, methods, and materials during the AQS Quilt Show and Contest in Paducah the 24th through the 27th of April. Among these visitors will be two men from Cairo, Egypt who will be demonstrating their art of applique’, making works on the spot, exhibiting their textile art and selling works as well. Next we meet the woman who paved the way for these artisans to have access to the American marketplace. Kate Lochte interviews Jenny Bowker.

Souk Al Khayamiya | Tentmakers Bazaar

Just beyond the southern walls of Fatimid Cairo across the street from Bab Zuweila stands a singular space in modern Cairo. There used to be hundreds of covered markets selling all kinds of goods throughout the city, but Kheemiyya, the Tentmakers Market, is the only one remaining.

The Tentmakers of Cairo, Cheryl Lynch

The highlight of the show for me was an exhibit by the Tentmakers of Cairo.  The applique are needle turned and made with a very large needle and pair of scissors with a very stabbing motion following a chalked line.  Only men make these quilts and they make them only for their families.  The backing is a piece of canvas.  They were for sale at the show.

Catching up #1 – Tentmakers and Cairo

It seems as if months have passed since I was in Cairo, although it really is only a few weeks.  In that time the crowd-funding appeal for the documentary film on the work of the Tentmakers has reached its goal and they have been featured at quilt shows  in France,  the US and one to come here in the UK.  You can imagine that I’m mega excited about the UK show - British Quilt & Stitch Village – because it is virtually our local show, less than 20 miles away.  It will be very strange meeting up with Hany in my country rather than his.  Hany is one of the first Tentmakers I met and chatted to on my first visit to the Street of the Tentmakers in 2002 and I have several pieces of his work in The Cupboard my collection.

Australian Filmmaker builds international audience to raise $25,000

 Kim Beamish, Producer of 'The Tentmakers of Chareh El Khiamiah' has raised $25,000 via an international audience of quilters, textile artists and those interested in independent documentary and a film about Egypt away from the square.

Kim Beamish, Producer of 'The Tentmakers of Chareh El Khiamiah' has raised $25,000 via an international audience of quilters, textile artists and those interested in independent documentary and a film about Egypt away from the square.

Cairo, Egypt
March 5, 2013

An Australian Filmmaker residing in Cairo, Egypt has successfully raised nearly $25000 through the Australian crowd funding website and in doing so has joined a growing number of independent documentary producers turning the industry's traditional marketing model upside down.

Kim Beamish has already sold hundreds of DVDs of his latest project, a documentary about traditional textile workers suffering the effects of post revolutionary Egypt, yet he is only halfway through shooting his film with an expected release date more than a year away. 

With more than a quarter of the fund raising campaign left Beamish’s documentary film, The Tentmakers of Chareh El Khiamiah, had already brought on board more than 200 supporters from around the globe. With the majority of supporters coming from the worldwide quilting and textiles community whose interest in international textiles and fabrics is almost insatiable. 

The initial supporter goal for the film was to raise $20,000, “My father asked me on the first day, ‘Do you really think you can raise that much?’ I felt confident but I was a little worried,” Beamish said. “I had seen other films and projects raising money this way. Really turning the whole marketing, funding thing upside down. Also being an Australian based in Cairo I wasn’t exactly sure where to look for funds.” 

Before announcing the crowd funding campaign Beamish had built a following through Facebook and Twitter with almost 3000 people following the films Facebook page, “I knew that I had to get people excited beforehand. I was also aware of the size of the quilting and textiles community. They were already very interested in the work of the Tentmakers of Cairo. So I spent six months building up the Facebook page and eventually launching our website prior to starting the crowd funding campaign.”

The trailer, which over the 30 days of the campaign was watch almost 2500 times, is a three and a half minute portrait of Hosam El Farouk that introduces the audience to Hosam’s family, his life and the work of Chareh El Khiamiah, the Tentmakers Street, in Old Islamic Cairo.

“I have often found the process of funding hard and frustrating and have on previous occasions had perfectly good stories turned on their head so as to fit broadcaster schedules and slots,” Beamish says. “Also private financing is not as common in Australia, especially for documentary, as it is in say the US or Europe. It is a whole new ball game for me. I was really putting it out there to see if there is an audience that wants to see this film. I think we have proven that there is.”

With the final film still more than a year away it is hard to judge its success and there is still a long way to go in building support and raising funds. 

“It is really up to the audience as to whether or not we will make a great film. It is their support which will give us the opportunity to up hold our pledge to them, which is to make a great film and to make sure our supporters feel they have been a part of it.”

There are many crowd funding websites out there that people can use to market their creative projects and financing goals. With projects wide and varied in what they want to achieve, from transporting cats from Beirut to computer games and cook books. Each with a pitch, a goal, a deadline and the hope that when the time is up the goal is met.

The Tentmakers of Chareh El Khiamiah supporters will over the next 30 days receive rewards for their pledges ranging from a Thank You in the final films credits, to DVD’s with hand stitched covers, T-shirts and cushion covers stitched by the Tentmakers of Cairo themselves.

All of the funds raised through the campaign will go towards travel costs between Egypt and the USA, as the Tentmakers exhibit their work and skills in some of the worlds largest quilting and textiles shows. As well as translation costs and the hire of an Egyptian film editor. Beamish hopes that editing will start at the end of July this year with a possible release halfway through next year.

For more information and if you would like to find out how you can support The Tentmakers of Chareh El Khiamiah go to

Tentmaker applique – alert

Just putting the final things together to leave for Cairo with enough time to post an important link and appeal ….

Chareh El Khiamiah - Barbara Chainey
Chareh El Khiamiah - Barbara Chainey

For more than a decade I have had the privilege of visiting the Street of the Tentmakers  in Cairo then returning home to teach classes and promote their work and its history in lectures and talks.  You can imagine that an important textile tradition that is heavily dependent on tourism has taken a huge blow since the events of two years ago.  As a result, the skills and traditions of this profession may disappear within our lifetime – a chilling thought.  This year, there is a glimmer of hope – Australian film-maker Kim Beamish is gathering information and financial support for a documentary film about the Street, the Tentmakers themselves, their influence and importance.  You can find more information about the project, and how you can help, wherever you are, at  or