May 13, 2012

Esna and Nile Barrages in Aswan

The Barrage at Esna, 1907
Douglas Sladen

Esna as we approached it in 1907, was all in a ferment; it was beside itself with importance. A fourth of the great Nile barrages was in the full swing of construction. Already a monster viaduct, long and high, was advancing upon the river from the eastern bank; and scores of huge gyassas, the Nile merchant-men, laden with earth, were running upstream with their vast wings of sails blown out stiff, to dump their cargoes on the advancing dam.

Egyptian Esna Barrage
The presence of all these native craft, of an army of fellahin navvies, and a posse of English engineers made business in the little town brisk. It reminded the Esnites of the palmy days when Esna had a governor, and was the chief town of a province, which was quietly cut in two and handed over to Kena and Aswan in 1889. Its government offices were moved to Aswan; the staff at any rate must have been pleased, since Assuan in winter is the most fashionable place in Egypt.

Most of the 13,500 inhabitants of Esna, who were not earning wages at barrage- building, were assembled on the shore for the arrival of our streamer. A barber was doing a thriving trade by the water’s edge, and you could have any number you wanted of leather water-bottles, decorated with shells. But the principal feature of the al fresco market which was accommodating itself to the steep slopes of the bank, was the display of baskets, about four feet high, shaped like oil-jars, and woven of purple, green and white cane splints, arranged in rows.

Until the barrage was commenced travellers only regarded Esna from one point of view as a place with a temple; and until the time of Mohammed Ali this was buried up to the capitals of its facade, and over head and ears and everywhere else. He had one chamber of it the hypostyle hall, cleared out in 1842; the rest of the temple, which is said to be complete, was underground when I was there, and half the city of Esna was built on top of it. As it had formally stood at the top of the town, this was naturally the airiest situation.

Related Web Search:
  • Esna
  • Aswan
  • Esna Egypt
  • Esna Temple
  • Temple of Esna
  • Egyptian Temples
  • Egypt Tourism

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