Shopping in Egypt!
After our time in Hurgada, we returned back to Cairo and decided to do some shopping. We bought papyrus, perfumes, jewelry, and alabaster from different shops around the city.
Papyrus is one of the most popular things to buy in Egypt. This plant was first used by the ancient Egyptians to invent paper. As soon as we arrived at the papyrus store, one of the employees taught us how to make paper from scratch.
The first thing to do is rip all the leaves off of the stem.
Next, cut a section of the stem to the height the paper should be. Then and peel the green outer layer off.
Next cut the white centre part into thin strips, pound them with a mallet, and soak them in water for at least two days.
Take out the strips and position them either weaving it like a basket or just laying them on top of each other vertically and horizontally.
Then place them between two pieces of cloth and into a press to flatten it into paper. In ancient times, the Egyptians would have used two stones instead of a press. After four days you can remove it from the press and paint it.
Finally, the employee told us about the most famous papyrus paintings to buy and the stories that go with them. We found papyrus so intriguing we decided to buy one to bring back to Canada with us to decorate our house.
Perfume is also a really popular souvenir to buy in Egypt. All of the essences are found in Egypt and mixed together to come up with beautiful scents. They don’t have water or alcohol added to them and to prove this in the perfume store, they put a flame inside the glass bottle as the alcohol would have caught on fire if it was not fully natural. There were all kinds of different scents such as lotus, papyrus, Cleopatra, Nefertiti, and many more. They all smelled amazing!
Jewelry is another very popular souvenir in Egypt. Mikhaila and I wanted to get our names written in hieroglyphics on a cartouche. A cartouche is “a carved tablet or drawing representing a scroll with rolled-up ends, used ornamentally or bearing an inscription”. We were able to watch a man use a blow torch to weld the hieroglyphics onto the necklace which was really interesting to watch but it was extremely dangerous.
The alabaster is very popular and abundant in Egypt. Alabaster is commonly used as candle holders and vases because when a light is placed inside, the colours of the stone are shown and the light shines through it which is really beautiful. We visited an alabaster workshop and were able to watch and learn how they hand carve all of their work.
One of the most special parts of the Egyptian culture was the hospitality. At every store we visited, everyone offered us tea or coffee and said it was Egyptian hospitality and that it was an obligation for us to accept.
The last place we went shopping was the bazaar. It sold almost everything, from spices to jewelry to clothing. It reminded me of the bazaar in Turkey.
Overall, learning about the Egyptian culture through shopping was a lot of fun, especially watching my mom bargain because she is one of the best master bargainers out there!