Scotsabroad's Weblog

May 7, 2011


Filed under: Cairo — scotsabroad @ 4:48 pm

This picture was taken yesterday across the road from the Islamic Art museum. We all got in the car and drove down on to Port Said Street, smug in the knowledge that we could easily leave the car in the well camouflaged, multi-storey car park we discovered last time – and finally visit the museum at our third attempt. No. We arrived at 10:50 am to be informed that we could enter but for 10 minutes only. We would have to leave at 11:00 am as the museum was closing for Friday prayers. We could return at 1pm.

So today, after lunch, we retraced our route. We parked on a different level and were rewarded with some unusual views of Cairo.

The museum, recently renovated and reopened, was worth the effort. Occupying the lower floor of what was originally the Dar al-Kutub, or the National Library, the building is stunning. The museum is not large and is not stuffed with artefacts. We probably went round it in about an hour. The walls are painted grey and white and there is ample space for reflection.  A very cool interior. We mingled with several students who were busy sketching objects and patterns.

Unfortunately photography was not permitted. Highlights included some magnificent doors, one in particular from the late 13th Century inscribed with a Mamluk Prince’s name, Prince Shams-al Din Sunqur al-Tawil a-Mansuri. Big name, big door.  A Fatimid bronze fountain faucet in the shape of a lion was beautifully detailed (you could visualise the water pouring from its mouth); a Qur’an from the 7th century is one of the earliest examples using vowels and consonants; a bowl doubled up as a Planetarium with the sun at the centre and sand clocks; there were prescriptions written on paper and papyrus and I would have liked to have known what ailment the patient might have had and what was being prescribed. Indeed, the only complaint was the lack of stories connected to the atrefacts. There was a magnificently fine and decorated balance made of copper and inlaid with silver. A carob bean was one of the weights used.

Lucas brought out his sketch pad but it was Shona who got engrossed in drawing and colouring a carpet from the 12th century. Cairo got the outline of a saddle-cloth just right. We were disappointed to see the totally empty shelves of what was, or will be, the museum shop! We were ready to spend.


1 Comment »

  1. Loved going round the museum with you all! Sketching sounds great.


    Comment by linda — May 12, 2011 @ 8:43 pm | Reply

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