Egypt Traditions and Arts
Crucible of many ancient cultures, according to philosophynearby, Egypt has received from Islam (or Islam) a decisive imprint, which affects every aspect of social life. The fasting month of ramaḍā’n retains great importance, concluded with the “little feast” and followed, 40 days later, by the “great feast” (ʽid el-kebīr); every year from Cairo the kiswa, the gold-embroidered black silk drape intended to cover the Kaʽba, leaves for Mecca in solemn form. Emerging of various ethnic minorities the fellahin, peasants and residents of small towns, exceed half of the population in number and constitute the pivot of the life of the country. Belonging to the most ancient ethnic layer and Muslim or Coptic creed, they live – linked to the life of the great river and the countryside – in the closed microcosm of the villages (all equal agglomerations of houses built with raw bricks and mud mixed with straw) and keep intact age-old habits, such as, for example, the style of dressing: for women the milāya, a black veil wrapped around the head and neck and down to the feet; for men, usually barefoot, the gallābīya (wide white cotton tunic up to the ankles), brightly colored waistcoat, sometimes leather slippers, on the head a felt cap or, for the more well-to-do, a white muslin turban that can be rolled up in twenty different ways to denounce its activity or social rank. Similar to the very ancient ones depicted in reliefs and paintings of the Pharaonic age, are the tools of peasant work: the wooden plow (which is of even more distant origin), the šādūf to draw water, the nōrag to shred the straw or beat the ears. The artisan activity excels in the processing and hand chiseling of copper and in the production, also manual, of crockery, round amphorae of El Faiyûm, of baskets (with date leaves and palm branches), of cushions and carpets in bright colors and, among the Copts, of linen, wool and cotton fabrics. As for food, the typical ingredients are those of Mediterranean and Arab cuisine, which make up a rather simple diet. Bread (aish), essential in the daily diet, in some cases is left to rise in the sun (aish shamsi), the heat of which develops natural yeasts. Another basic component of the diet are vegetables, especially broad beans and aubergines: the former are the basis for ful, a soup flavored with lemon and cumin, and for tamièya, meatballs with parsley and sesame seeds. The most used meats are lamb and mutton. The main dishes are legume creams (such as hommus), fetir and shawarma; the latter two are based on meat. The desserts, like those of other North African countries, have an extremely sweet taste and are based on honey, almonds and other dried fruit. Beer, which was already produced at the time of the pharaohs, is one of the most popular drinks; various fruit juices are also very common.
Conquered to Islam between 639 and 642, Egypt welcomed a flowering of art, especially in Cairo, the seat of the various dynasties and the hub of the social, political and cultural life of the region, where numerous buildings, especially religious, of great architectural value, many of which still survive. Outside the capital is the beautiful nilometer (miqyas) of the island of Roda, built, according to an inscription that ran along all sides of the square well that supported the graduated column, in 861-862 by Muḥammad al-Hasib for the Abbasid al-Mutawakkil. A series of mausoleums from the necropolis of Aswân can also be traced back to the Fatimite period (969-1171). (Upper Egypt), in which the exuberant imagination of the provincial builders indulged in the search for the picturesque rather than the architectural. There were numerous centers of handicraft production of ceramics, wood, glass, rock crystal, worked metals and, above all, of fabrics. In the Fatimite period the weaving workshops (tirāz) of Misr, Damietta, Tinnis, Shata, Alexandria, Tuna, El Faiyûm, etc. were active, whose fabrics were usually decorated with vegetable motifs, animal figures and, more rarely , human. With the Mamluks and the Ottomans, Cairo returned to being the center of handicraft production. After the Arab domination, profound changes took place in the artistic traditions of Egypt due to the interference of European cultural currents, which marked the building renovation carried out in numerous cities during the centuries. XIX and XX. The absolute prevalence of European models did not disappear even after the revolution, even if under the new formula of capital and technical interventions from different countries. Despite the enormous effort made starting from the 1950s, with the launch of planning projects for the major cities (Cairo, Alexandria, Ismailia, Port Said) and for a hundred villages, with related reclamation works, the urbanization has been poorly regulated (think of Cairo’s sprawling and chaotic growth) and construction production has made poor use of European models and technologies. The most important undertaking of the 1960s, linked to the construction of the great Aswân dam, was the regional plan for Aswân, due to the JE Glowczewski group, Kemal Abon Hamda and ZA Zielinski. On the other hand, particular attention was paid to the conservation and enhancement of the artistic heritage of ancient Egypt, also thanks to the collaboration and intervention of international organizations such as the was the regional plan for Aswân, due to the JE Glowczewski group, Kemal Abon Hamda and ZA Zielinski. On the other hand, particular attention was paid to the conservation and enhancement of the artistic heritage of ancient Egypt, also thanks to the collaboration and intervention of international organizations such as the was the regional plan for Aswân, due to the JE Glowczewski group, Kemal Abon Hamda and ZA Zielinski. On the other hand, particular attention was paid to the conservation and enhancement of the artistic heritage of ancient Egypt, also thanks to the collaboration and intervention of international organizations such as the UNESCO (campaigns for the salvation of the Philae and Abu Simbel temples). As for painting, the avant-garde movement Art and Freedom developed between 1937 and 1945, inspired by European surrealism, whose main exponents were Ramses Youan (1914-1966) and Fu’ad Kamil (1919-1973). An own production, independent from the European countries, was born only in the second half of the twentieth century; the best known names internationally are Gazbia Sirry (b. 1925), Abdel Wahab Morsi (b. 1931) and Adel El-Siwi (b. 1952).