The American Quilter’s Society brings the appliqué artistry of the Tentmakers of Cairo to the U.S. for the first time ever! Curated by international textile artist Jenny Bowker, this exhibit sheds light on the ancient art of Egyptian tentmaking. This U.S. premiere exhibit, “Stitch Like An Egyptian: Tentmakers of Cairo” hopes to make the world aware of the beautiful yet shrinking art of the few remaining Tentmakers who continue to ply their trade.
This ancient, intricate craft has been facing struggles, as machines try to replace hand-made items and unscrupulous businesses copy and sell their unique designs. The American Quilter’s Society is bringing this exhibition to the United States to raise interest and awareness in this traditional, beautiful art.
AQS Executive Show Director, Bonnie Browning notes: “We began a three-continent collaboration to make arrangements for “Stitch Like an Egyptian: Tentmakers of Cairo” to debut at the AQS Quilt Show in Grand Rapids.”
The artists are from Khan Khayamiya—the Market of the Tentmakers in the heart of Old Islamic Cairo. Two of them, Hosam Hanafy Ahmed Mahmoud and Tarek Abdelhay Hafez Abouelenin will be on hand at the exhibit to demonstrate their method of appliqué.
This ancient artwork used to line tents or screens covered in appliqué that could decorate a whole street. Curator Jenny Bowker notes: “There were tents found in Pharaonic tombs from 2,000 B.C. … There are pictures in the Rameses panels at Abu Simbel of tents lined up”.
Today's quiltmakers recognize the skill needed for such beautiful and colorful appliqués. A thriving international demand for the work keeps the few remaining tentmakers in business.