Khan el Khalili Opinions

Old Sep 27th, 2008, 03:58 PM
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Khan el Khalili Opinions

I like to purchase handicrafts in each country that I visit. Is the market a good place to buy these items? Come to think of it I don't know what is considered an Egyptian handicraft!! For example, in Russia, it is the Matryoshka doll and lacquer boxes. I'm looking something similar to that.

Thank you to all!
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Old Sep 27th, 2008, 05:51 PM
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Visit the Tent Makers Market in Cairo. They sell beautiful fabrics and textiles, all made with hand done applique. You can get wonderful throw pillow covers, linen, table cloths, wall hangings, etc. Also at the Khan, and all over Egypt, there are mother of pearl inlay boxes. Egyptian alabaster bowls and boxes and vases are also nice. Papyrus and jewelry abound.

Shop till you drop!
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Old Sep 27th, 2008, 10:58 PM
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Bara is right - the Tent Makers Market (which is about a 15 minute walk from the Khan) is a good place to get something that you are pretty well assured was actually made in Egypt. You can see the men working right there.

In the Khan, unfortunately, too much of the stuff in there now is made in China and brought here for sale. Those little inlaid boxes are a good example. If they are too cheap, they are probably from China. If you can find the craftsmen upstairs near the brass and metal shops (*ask someone to take you to the Jordi shop), you can find a little shop in the corner where they are actually making the inlaid boxes out on the street.

*Note - the Jordi shop is NOT the place to buy Egyptian hand crafted items - I think nearly everything in that shop is Chinese, but having said that, it is often just the right shop for some people - I take people with children there that need to buy things in mass for school or need a real bargain for any reason. BUT - it is just down the sidewalk from the man that makes the boxes and I'm pretty sure anyone would know where Jordi is.

Once upstairs, walk around the whole circle of shops. You may find the men working on the mashrabayia, or a man tap tap tapping away to put a design on a brass plate. There are factories up there with workers putting together cartouches for the shops downstairs too.

More markets to find hand crafted goods are
1) Souk el Foustat - next to Coptic Cairo. This is a favorite of mine as the idea behind it was such a good idea. It was built about 6-8 years ago to market local artisans work. These craftsmen had to be willing to teach the children of the area their craft if they wanted to have space in the market. That still happens, I think, to some extent, but not 100%. But there are a couple of wonderful shops there that are very special. One is selling needlepoint items made by women in El Al Arish. They have lovely items you won't find elsewhere. The other shop I love there is the outlet for the NGO in the garbage city area. Here you will find wonderful fabric and paper products mostly made by the women living in what is know as the Zabaleen area. Prices on all these itmes (including baby quilts and tote bags) are so reasonable, everyone should go there. The problem is that most major guided tours won't take you there because the shops don't pay commissions to guides. You need to go on your own. Also, understand that there still is no ATM near this market or in Coptic Cairo so you need cash unless you find something at one of the few stores that accept credit cards.

2) Misr Khan store. This is across the street from the Ibn Taloon mosque. It looks like NOTHING from the outside, but inside it is a treasure chest of finds. Not everything is made in Egypt, but the owner is very honest about telling you where things are from. She finds things all over the middle east to sell there, and prices are fixed. She does accept credit cards.

Both of these areas have fixed prices and do not bargain.

Have fun shopping.
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Old Sep 28th, 2008, 05:39 PM
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Thanks very much to you both. That is such a huge help! I'm very particular about buying handicraft items that are actually made in the country, not China.
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Old Oct 7th, 2008, 12:01 PM
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I wrote a post a year or so ago talking about places to shop in the Khan. Don't remember the name of the post I was answering, though.
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