Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Samir Abd El Shahed | Egyptian New Weave

Capitalising on Revolution

Photo of Samir and Asad in Luxor, 2012

The New Baraka Carpet shop in the central part of Luxor in Upper Egypt, sits the cheerful owner, Samir Abd El Shahed and his trustee assistant, Asad Fickeri. Their doors opened just over twenty-eight years ago, back in 1984 and over the past quarter of a century Samir has become an expert in Egyptian tapestries from all corners of Egypt. Now he is focusing on the top ten artisans throughout the country and he tells me his business is booming. Although the tourism industry has all but dried up in Luxor, the Internet is playing a huge role in finding new and exciting markets for artists of Northern Africa and the Arabic world. Capitalising of the constant news of Egypt and the Arabic Spring one area that is finding new growth is contemporary art from the revolutionary Arabic countries. With the downfall of the Dictators the focus now is in building the new and respecting those that have been against the regimes from the outset. Unlike his counterparts up in Cairo that only support the artisans of the North; Samir has gone the distance and stretched himself out to represent the best in all the regions throughout Egypt.

There is nothing new about Egyptian Tapestries, they have been around for years and seen and enjoyed in London for over two decades but what is new is that the tapestries are quickly becoming an international must have; this style of Egyptian weaving was made famous by the late architect Ramses Wissa Wassef and his vision and creation of the Artists Village, on the outskirts of Cairo back in the 1980’s. Ramses created the village in order to support the poorest and most vulnerable children in the area. It was his wife and her friends that taught the children the importance of being able to create and encourage the craft of weaving. Today they are on their third generation of artisans, all of which have gone off to greener pastures. This initiative has been largely supported by the British Museum and also Ramses’ connections with international architects, archaeologists and Egyptologists working around the world. The Tapestries have also been championed by the Brunei Gallery at SOAS, School of Oriental and African Studies part of London University through various impressive shows put on by John Hollingsworth and Joy Onykinjarko. Each Egyptian Tapestry Exhibition has found greater success and been enjoyed by all those that visited.
This unique style of the Egyptian tapestry has become increasingly fashionable with the emerging intelligent classes of North Africa as unlike the works of Persians the contemporary Egyptian tapestries celebrate and record the life of the artists. Egyptians are beginning to see the importance of names, dates and titles. The top ten artists include four from Northern Egypt of Alexandria and Cairo: Ali Sayed and his son Mohammed El Sayed, Ibrahim Eid and Helme Omar. Four from Middle Egypt of Asout and Minia: Mohammed Kamel, Said Kamel, Samir Shokri and Said El Musry and finally two from Upper Egypt of Luxor and Aswan: Usry from Sharkia and Sunflower Ali from Luxor.

Camel Market by Mohammed Kamel, 2007

Ibus Tree by Ibramhim Eid Ahmed, 2002

The works have now become extremely fashionable to own and are sold for thousands in shows around the world and auction house in North Africa and the Middle East. Samir has taken a novel approach and is using the Internet, which generates a global audience and a fabulous opportunity for buyers and sellers to purchase works at reasonable prices; this is not only advantageous to the buyers but also spawns a new perspective on the meaning of fair trade. The power of the Internet has established Samir as one of the leading merchants of Egyptian Tapestries worldwide. To see what is available and the kind of prices expected, go down to the African Well when it opens later in the year - This is certainly a wonderful way to build up an impressive Collection of Contemporary African Art. Prices start as low as 100 pounds and can reach up to thousands. The Capitalisation of Revolution and the Arabic Spring has already begun. Egyptian Tapestries are certainly set to be an intelligent investment for the future.

For more information about Egyptian Tapestries contact:

Samir Abd El Shahed
Khaled Ibn El Walid St,

Tel: + 2 0127 758 18 35


Website: African Well |

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