Where are we coming from?
The word Kheyameya has its origins in the Arab word for 'tent' (Khaymah), you are probably familiar with it from the name
of the famous twelfth century Persian poet and scientist Omar Khayyam, since his family made tents in Nichapour, Persia.
In the wider Middle East, the craft consisted not only in the fabrication of large tents, but also decorating the inside walls
with traditional patterns since the main use of these tents was to host large family gatherings and social events like weddings,
religious celebrations and funerals.
Today, across the Middle East this craft is disappeared due to changes in our modern lifestyle.
Fortunately Kheyameya has survived in Egypt, as an entire section of medieval Cairo has morphed into another tradition
of home furnishings. From wall hangings to bedspreads, tablecloths and pillowcases, the colorful pieces artistically and
painstakingly hand stitched with traditional geometric patterns, ancient symbols or skillful combinations of both, are everywhere
in Egyptian homes and have become some of the best tourist souvenirs you can buy in Cairo bazaars.
Process and techniques
Like anything in art it all starts with an idea, a sketch, a line drawing. The line work then enlarged to the right size on
Blueprint paper and the lines are patiently perforated to create a stencil.
The stencil is in turn transferred to the base canvas using a simple dusting technique and the little dots are clear enough
to be the guide for redrawing the patterns onto the fabric.
Next, every shape is assigned a different color and neatly covered with a colored piece of fabric, usually a cotton twill,
linen, silk or muslin, which is blind stitched to the background canvas in a thread of the same color as the swatch.
By the time the tedious work is finished, the result is delightful, lively and extremely durable.
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