Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Kodak Agfa Presents : Bahariya Oasis Heritage Private Museum

In February 2019, Kodak Agfa went on a short trip to the amazing and wonderful Bahariya Oasis of Egypt. Despite it follows the Giza governorate officially yet it is considered in the heart of the Western desert or rather we can consider it the gate of the Western Desert and its oases 

Interestingly the Bahariya Oasis is known in Egypt as Bahariya Oases and not only One oasis.

There are sites many sites and places I have been on this short trip including the city of Bawiti where I have been staying but I will kick it off with this small private museum I have been to hours before going back to Cairo.

That small private museum is the Bahariya Oasis Heritage. 

Bahariya Oasis's heritage museum in Egypt's Giza
The Bahariya Oasis Heritage Museum from outside

This small privately-owned and operated museum is dedicated to the heritage, culture and history of the Bahariya Oasis, which is actually quite a mysterious place for the majority of the Egyptians from the valley of the Nile.

It is not your usual museum where you can find a collection of old artefacts but rather it is a heritage and art museum.

Inside Bahariya Oasis Museum in Egypt's Giza
A sculpture representing a woman from Bahariya Oasis with the traditional nose piercing 
Do not know if they still practice nose piercing as I have not met women on the trip 

In 1995, young local artist and sculptor Mahmoud Eid made this small museum. He built in a traditional old way using natural materials like rocks, sand, clay and palm trees when modernity began to reach the oasis.

Inside Bahariya Oasis Museum in Egypt's Giza
Inside the museum 

For 18 months, he built that museum on a top of a hill in the city of Bawiti.

It consists of about 15 rooms I guess and they are full of either small clay figurines or full sculpture depicting scenes from the daily life of Bahariya as well as its cultural symbols.

Inside Bahariya Oasis's heritage museum
figurines, faces and symbols of the Bahariya Oasis 

He also presented full scenes made of clay sculpture to depict real people from the elderly he used to know and see in the oasis.

Like for instance, old grandma Aisha who used to bake sun bread in front of her oven. 

Inside Bahariya Oasis's heritage museum
Grandma Aisha baking
And this old man and his wife.

Inside Bahariya Oasis Museum in Egypt's Giza
A man and his wife 

The men playing music in a “samer” session. “I do not remember what this woman was doing in that scene”.

Inside Bahariya Oasis Museum in Egypt's Giza
The men and music 
Here is a closer look at the old men chilling in that scene smoking too.
Inside Bahariya Oasis Museum in Egypt's Giza
The men and the water pipe aka shisha 

There was that man resting and chilling in a care less mood in the oasis. 

Inside Bahariya Oasis Museum in Egypt's Giza
Chilling out at the oasis 

Now an interesting fact, the five main families or clans in the Bahariya oasis came from Egypt aka the valley “they are the oldest and it is believed to be of ancient Egyptian-Roman roots”, Libya “two families”, Turkey and Ethiopia. You read it right and they have lived peacefully in this quiet oasis.

Inside Bahariya Oasis Museum in Egypt's Giza
The only coloured sculpture in the museum to represent the clan originally from Ethiopia 

On one visit to this museum, as an Egyptian from the valley of the Nile, I felt that I technically know nothing about the heritage of this small oasis despite I live in the same governorate it follows.

Inside Bahariya Oasis's heritage museum
Different faces and symbols 

That’s why I believe this museum is extremely important and its founder Eid was right to found it. In fact, I hope it is supported by the Ministry of tourism and antiquities in the future.

Inside Bahariya Oasis's heritage museum
Figurines representing the locals of Bahariya Oasis 

Sadly, Mahmoud Eid passed away but he left his son Mostafa to run the museum.

The Curator of Bahariya Oasis heritage museum
Mostafa Eid, the current curator 

The son managed to keep the museum open and running attracting tourists from foreigners and Egyptians who interested to know more about the life of Bahariya Oasis.
Inside Bahariya Oasis Museum in Egypt's Giza
Inside the Museum 

Unfortunately, I have just known that the museum is temporarily closed due to the current coronavirus pandemic crisis.

I hope it operates again and the government supports it.

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