Egyptian Chronicles: Kodak Agfa presents : El-Sayida Ramadan Market

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Kodak Agfa presents : El-Sayida Ramadan Market

Location Al-Sayida Zeinab, Cairo Governorate, Egypt
It is Ramadan time in Egypt which means the time of thousands and thousands Ramadan Lanterns all over Egypt.
Kodak Agfa took the camera and decided this year to head one of the famous tradition markets in Cairo : El-Sayida Zeinab Ramadan Market. "It is quite belated post but I did not have time to post the photos except now"
Already it is a hot zone this year for photographers who discovered it too late but for one good reason : The Egyptian traditional lanterns are back to dominate the market.
Be ready for more lanterns in this post 
Located directly beside  Cairo's El-Sayida Zeinab Mosque , a seasonal traditional informal market is held on both sides of Al-Sad street to sell mainly Ramadan Lanterns as well other Ramadan supplies from dried fruits ,herbs, pickles and legumes as well toys and Ramadan decorations.
El-Sayida Zeinab Mosque
El-Sayida Zeinab Mosque and the market behind it 
That location is turned from a marketplace to a Moulid Place.
The Mosque of Cairo's Islamic Saint Patron is located in the heart of Islamic Cairo , the old Cairo so you can feel that the ambiance here is different as you can feel the Spirit of Ramadan even before it started.
Another overview for El-Sayida Ramadan market
A very crowded seasonal market
My trip there was 48 hours before the start of Ramadan .
It is different than Upper Class or Upper Middle-Class area as here you can feel here the authentic Ramadan ambiance that other more classy areas try to mimic.
Outside El-Sayida Zeinab's Ramadan Market
Despite the hot weather , many people were there doing their Ramadan

Prior Ramadan by 48 hours and in a very hot weather conditions , the street was extremely crowded with families and mother who were doing their Ramadan shopping buying lanterns for their homes as well their kids.
Smile to the mobile phone Camera
A lady taking a photo of her son among hundreds of Egyptian traditional lanterns

The lanterns of Um Hashim

El-Sayida Zeinab area is considered from the main zones in Cairo where the traditional Egyptian traditional lanterns are manufactured for decades if not for centuries.
The land of one thousand and one lanterns
Lanterns from here to eternity 
Two main areas are specifically known for that ongoing industry in El-Sayida Zeinab area : Bab El-Khalk and Berkit El-Fil. Usually, the workshops work for 11 months in manufacturing the lanterns and then take one month off : Ramadan.
Traditional lanterns everywhere
Hundreds if not thousands of traditional Egyptian lanterns in that market 

The Egyptian traditional Ramadan lantern is usually handmade from tin and colored glass.
Lanterns everywhere
Egyptian traditional lanterns hanged in the market 
Lanterns colors
Handmade Lanterns here and lanterns there on the other side
Colored glassed Ramadan
Those lanterns are made of glass and tin 

For three decades , the Egyptian traditional Ramadan lantern seemed to be on the verge of extinction thanks to the Chinese Plastic Ramadan lantern and its market.

For three decades, Children and parents alike preferred the cheap Chinese Plastic Ramadan lantern because of their colored interesting shapes and good prices as well their light weight.

It is toys time
Two boys standing at Chinese toys corner 

Yet, thankfully to the current economic and currency crises in Egypt, the Egyptian traditional lantern restored its throne once again.
Different styles of Egyptian traditional lanterns
Smaller Egyptian traditional lanterns 

Ramadan lanterns and more lanterns
Egyptian traditional lanterns used to be lit by candles

In April 2015, the ministry of industry and commerce banned the importation of Chinese Ramadan lanterns in an attempt to save foreign currency.
A stall selling Ramadan lanterns
lanterns stall at El-Sayida Zeinab
The importation of Chinese Ramadan lanterns used to cost Egypt nearly USD 10 million during then. The decision's echo was felt this year.
Speaking to one of the Shopkeepers this year, he told me that the market "sucks" as they can not import new Chinese Ramadan lanterns nor they do have dollars in the first place.

At El-Sayida Zeinab Ramadan market
There is still demand for Egyptian traditional lantern I saw there 

The Chinese lanterns of last year are still there including the Dora , the explorer Ramadan lantern.
Chinese Ramadan lanterns
Chinese lanterns , see how they are different from their Egyptian lanterns 

The man says that there was not high demand on Egyptian traditional lantern because they were expensive. It is true that the Egyptian traditional handmade lantern was more expensive as it may start from LE 30 to 40  to 150 to 250 depending on the size.
Waiting for customers
Lanterns seller waits for the customers in his stall 

Bigger size lanterns are usually purchased by restaurants, cafes and hotels.
A gigantic Traditional Ramadan lanterns
A gigantic lantern made for hotels and restaurants 
Egyptian Traditional Ramadan Lanterns
The bigger lanterns' prices can reach to thousands of pounds 

Still , I believe there was a considerable demand on the Egyptian traditional handmade lanterns in the street itself as people used to buy from other stalls.
Ramadan lantern photo
Smiling among the lanterns 

Strike a pose with Ramadan Lantern
Strike a pose 
Yes , the shops were actually stalls covered by the famous Red Khayamia pattern fabric.
The Ramadan lanterns stalls in El-Sayida
The stalls that were set up 
A favorite spot for Egyptians
The stalls are easy to be removed after the end of the holy month of Ramadan 

Khayamia red pattern has become Ramadan's official decoration. People came to the market to buy the Ramadan Khayamia linens as there were much cheaper here than in other areas in Cairo.
They also come to buy Ramadan supplies from dried fruits , herbs and dates as well pickles "Torshi" in much cheaper prices.
Ramadan dates
An Upper Egyptian dates seller and his son 

Egyptian traditional pickles Torshi for Ramadan
Egyptian traditional pickles "Turshi" at El-Sayida Market 
Buying Ramadan supplies
Dried fruits and herbs seller at El-Sayida Market 

Side note : The lanterns of Um Hashim's Subtitle here is inspired from Yahiya Hakki's famous novel "The Lamp of Umm Hashim"
Um Hashim is one of the titles or names the Egyptians called "El-Sayida Zeinab" {Lady Zeinab} the granddaughter of Prophet Mohamed. Most Egyptians believe that she settled down and died in Egypt after the battle at Karbala.
Already there are two shrines for her in the Arab world : One in Damascus and the famous Shrine in Cairo.

Ramadan lanterns Fashion this year

The popular Ramadan lanterns this year are those two :
The Khayamia Ramadan lantern which is made from Khayamia fabric and it comes in different sizes.
Ramadan Khayamia style lantern فانوس الخيامية
A big electric Khayamia glass lantern 
Making a Ramadan Lantern
A Khayamia lantern in making 
The second popular lantern at least among the Ahly Sports Club fans is the Ramadan Sobhi wooden lantern.
The Ramadan Sobhi wooden lantern shows his silhouette doing his famous move "standing over the football" that drives Zamalek Sports club fans mad.
Ramadan Lantern 2016 in Egypt : Ramadan Sobhi's lantern
The Ramadan Sobhi lantern 
The wooden lanterns are still popular because they are cheap and light.
Wooden Egyptian Ramadan traditional lanterns
Wooden traditional lanterns 

It is never late to say  Ramadan Kareem again and again :)


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