Alive with artisans: Cairo’s al-Darb al-Ahmar district – a photo essay
Amid the historic quarter’s busy streets, a thousand workshops maintain centuries-old craftmaking traditions. These workers’ ancient skills are celebrated in a new exhibition at London’s Royal Geographical Society
“Whatever manufactured items there are in the world,” wrote the Ottoman traveller Evliya Çelebi in 1671, “the poor of Cairo get hold of them, set them out and trade in them.” Nearly 350 years later, this tradition lives on in al-Darb al-Ahmar. This neighbourhood of 100,000 people, south-east of central Cairo, is said to be home to a thousand workshops. The place teems with artisans crafting everything from tents, books, boxes and brass lanterns to glass bowls and silk carpets.
It is impossible to conceive of all the elements that you find in al-Darb al-Ahmar
The children of the neighbourhood are so interested. When they walk past, they ask questions, they want to learn