Friday May 5, 2020
Cairo, Egypt – A line of handmade jewellery and crafts has launched in the City of the Dead, an often stigmatised neighbourhood in Cairo known for its Mamluk heritage.
The MISHKĀ brand features leather goods and brass and silver jewellery handmade by a team of some 80 local women in a workshop near the complex of Sultan Qaitbey.
“The word MISHKA means ‘lantern’ in Arabic, and our brand means a better life for the women living among these historic monuments,” says Agnieszka Dobrowolska, Project Director at MISHKĀ. “It also means a new life for the City of the Dead.”
The brand is inspired by the geometric and floral patterns of the surrounding Mamluk architecture. Handmade from local materials, the products are sold at a MISHKĀ shop near the Sultan Qaitbey Mosque and at locations around Cairo including Diwan Bookstores.
MISHKĀ began by providing training for some 40 women from the Qaitbey area in 2017. Their creations were later developed into a brand by the Sultan Foundation, a not-for-profit organization supported by the Drosos Foundation.
The line includes necklaces, earrings and bracelets cut with a jeweller’s saw and bench pin, and leather notebooks, coin purses, eyeglass cases and tablet covers in a rainbow array of colours.
“We blend contemporary design with traditional Egyptian crafts,” says Heba al-Naggar, production manager and designer. “And this lets people see Egyptian art through a different lens.”
The MISHKĀ brand is part of a larger project by the Sultan Foundation and ARCHiNOS Architecture that aims to preserve the neighbourhood’s rich tradition of handicrafts. The project aims to integrate culture into the life of the local community, Dobrowolska says, while improving conditions and promoting cultural tourism to the Qaitbey neighbourhood.
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