The urban fabric of Cairo: Khayamiya and the Suradeq

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Khayamiya, or Egyptian tentmaker applique`, is a distinctly Egyptian architectural tradition that has been ignored by most architects. The vibrant ornamental qualities of this art form are slowly gaining recognition by designers from other fields, such as fashion, interior design, visual art and textile crafts, but it remains inexplicable that such an intensely visual aspect of Egyptian vernacular culture is not highly regarded, or even widely considered, as a national design icon of Egypt. This article will present an overview of khayamiya as a distinctly Egyptian architectural textile. The suradeq, or khayamiya pavilion / street tent, is the exemplar par excellence of this rich and complex art form. Recent developments in technology and reorientations towards international audiences have changed the work of the tentmakers of Cairo, veering away from architecture, towards contemporary art. These changes both threaten and encourage the survival of khayamiya as an important Egyptian living heritage. There is a great deal yet to be contributed to contemporary Islamic architecture and design by those who can reassess the endangered art of khayamiya within its original architectural context: the suradeq.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-501
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Islamic Architecture
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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