, pub-5063766797865882, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Antique Makers, 1855 | Luxor - Walking Through Egypt ~ Ancient Egypt Facts

May 12, 2012

Antique Makers, 1855 | Luxor - Walking Through Egypt

Antique Makers, 1855
William C. Prime

Egyptian Antique Makers
I left the Phantom and walked around the village [Luxor], my footsteps dogged by twenty donkey-boys, and as many donkeys, each of the former hoping that I would grow tired and patronize one of them. At every corner and turn a Coptic scoundrel would produce a lot of antiques for sale, and I amused myself by asking prices. At Luxor rates, Dr. Abbott’s collection is worth a million.

Oh! confident Howajji [foreign traveller], beware in Luxor of Ibrahim the Copt, and on the western shore of Achmet-el-Kamouri, the Mussulman. Skilful manufacturers of every form of antique are plenty in the neighbourhood, and these men have them in their employ, and sell to unwary travelers the productions of the modern Arabs as veritable specimens of the antique. Achmet is the chief manufacturer himself, and has a ready hand at the chisel.

The manufacture of antiques is a large business in Egypt, and very profitable. Scarabi are moulded from clay or cut from stone, with close imitation of the ancient, and sold readily at prices varying from one to five dollars. At Thebes is the head-quarters of this business. Still, no antiquarian will be deceived; and it requires very litde practice to be able in an instant to determine whether an article is ancient or modem. When the Copt finds that you do know the distinction, he becomes communicative, and readily lets you into the secret of his business; and while he is confidentially informing you of the way in which the Arabs do it, and how this is modem and that is not, beware lest you become too trusting, and he sells you in selling a ring, or a vase, or a seal. He is a wily fellow and sharp, and he knows well how to manage a Howajji.

There were two Thebes, just as there are two Luxors. On the east bank, from where the sun rises, is the city of the living with the temples and places of worship and now studded with hotels, bazaars, and all the life of a busy urban area; on the west bank is the ‘Other Side’ with its mortuary temples and the tombs of people long dead. But the ‘Other Side’ also has life, particularly in the village of Guma, whose residents have guarded and overseen the tombs for centuries.

Protectors of the Tombs, 1792 W.G. Browne
On landing with my Greek servant at Kourna no male inhabitant appeared; but two or three women were standing at the entrance of their dens. As we passed, in quest of the sheck-el-bellad, to request a guide, one of the women said, in Arabic, Are you not afraid of crocodiles?’ I replied in the negative. She said, emphatically, We are crocodiles,’ and proceeded to depict her own people as thieves and murderers. They are indeed a ferocious clan, differing in person from other Egyptians. Spears twelve or fourteen feet in length are deadly weapons in their hands.

In the temple at Medinet-Abu we observed a large quantity of blood, and were told by the peasants of Beirat that the Kournese had there murdered a Muggrebin and a Greek, travellers passing from Assuan to Kahira, who had strayed thither from mere curiosity, or perhaps with a view to finding treasure, in which the Muggrebins pretend to superior skill.


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