While you walk down to Islamic Cairo's most famous El-Muezz Street, you will come across a grand Ottoman-era sabil, - Sabil is an Arabic word that stands for a public fountain -. Sabils in Islamic world used to be a popular form of charity by the well-off for anyone who passing by to get a free clean & cold water.
The sabil of Mohamed Ali is now hosting the Egyptian Textile Museum, which tells the history of the textile industry in Egypt from the Pharaonic era until today.
It is well known that Muhammad Ali, the famous King and - the modern Egypt builder – as most Egyptian love to call and who ruled Egypt in the nineteenth century, erected this sabil as a tribute to his son, Ismail, who was killed in battle in Sudan.
Before this Sabil was converted into a museum, the sabil functioned as a school for orphans, and then as Primary School, where many Egyptian famous people used to attend. Naguib Mahfouz the writer who won Noble and president Gamal Abdel-Nasser were among pupils attended this school, only to name a few.
The museum has 2 floors that include 11 rooms displaying stunning treasures that trace Egypt history through cloth, shrouds and decorative textiles.
A major part of displays here in this stunning museum go back to the Pharaonic era, and visitors will see here what kind of clothes ancient Egyptians really used to wear in their daily life, and can see some bed sheets that scientists assure that they belong to the only woman who ruled Egypt in the ancient times, Queen Hatshepsut.
Another interesting part of the textile museum is that in which visitors can get a closer look to amazing textiles that related to the other world. Like linen shrouds for coffins that decorated with images of various underworld gods.
Moving on into the museum till we reach other rooms which display the Graeco-Roman era, that has the finest examples of textiles from the Coptic era which was the golden era of textiles in Egypt.
A major part of displays in this section come from the Bagawat cemetery in the Kharga oasis in western desert that has many tombs and chapels that some of them are dated back to prehistoric times but all displays are very well-preserved.
Wthin this era the Coptic style continues to dominate, but later on and exactly in the Tulunid age fabrics were no longer depict humans but instead were decorated with birds and plants.
According to specialists, it seems that Linen was the main material used in this period, as well as dyed wool, with beige and purple being particularly common.
The museum also features displays of textiles from Islamic era and it go back to the Arab Conquest in the seventh century.
In one of the 11 rooms that museum has people can enjoy seeing Al kiswa, - A unique cloth that used to be made specially to cover the Kaaba in Mecca - dating from the reign of King Farouk (1936-1952).
Al Kiswa is draped annually on the 9th day of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah, the day pilgrims leave for the plains of Mount Arafat during the Hajj.
It is well known that each year Egyptians used to manufacture a new kiswa and sent it to Saudi Arabia before hajj season, an honored tradition that started in the medieval period and continued until the middle of 20th, century.
To enjoy a visit to this wonderful museum please pay a look to this page.