A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Dying Art of the Ramadan Lantern

According to this Washington Post feature, Cairo has only a handful of remaining craftsmen makkng the fanoos, the Ramadan lanterns, in the traditional way. Most of those sold today are made in China.  I suppose it's no surprise; Zeinobia's blog noted earlier in Ramadan (along with a photo gallery) that this year one of the Chinese lanterns is in the shape of a tank.

It made me recall how back in the 1970s there were still two tarbush-makers in Cairo making and blocking the fez in the old-fashioned way; both were in the Ghuriyya suq, the cloth merchants' suq. They had elaborate old brass instruments for blocking the hats; I imagine they too have faded away since even then no one except waiters at Groppi's was wearing the fez.


Rashad said...

There is still at least one fez maker that makes them the old fashioned way. He is on the path towards Bab Zuwayla if you're coming from the Khan. I think he mostly sells to tourists.

Michael Collins Dunn said...

Glad to hear there's at least one.