A quarter of a century ago a Copt named Ramses Wissa Wassef bought some land outside Cairo and started an artistic community.
A quarter of a century ago a Copt named Ramses Wissa Wassef bought some land outside Cairo and started an artistic community. Today tapestries that the settlement produces are famous and sought after in many parts of the world.
When Mr Wassef purchased the land 25-years ago near the village of Harrania, several children from the village went to work for him and learn the art of tapestry weaving.
He taught them the rudiments of the craft and then left them to develop their own styles.
Now those same children are adults, married with their own children.
Stemming from Mr Wassef's desire for those children to develop the craft without any preconceived ideas are the tapestries produced today. They are built-up without the aid of first having sketched the design. In fact, they are made-up as the craftsman work.
Some of the girls who were taken in by Mr Wassef initially are now married to men who farm land nearby their settlement. They still work -- in its own way a social revolution amongst Egyptian peasants.
The artist's settlements is very much self contained. Dyes for the materials used, are extracted from plants grown in the settlement, and the raw fabric coloured in traditional style vats.
Recently Mr Wassef had guided some of the craftsmen to weaving carpets and linen. Others work with pottery.
Several years ago Mr Wassef exhibited some of the tapestries produced by his craftsmen at the Royal College of Arts in London.
Tapestries produced at the settlement sell for between 300 and 400 sterling.