May 1, 2012

Modern Egyptian Women 1914

The World of Women of Means, 1914
Elizabeth Cooper

It is hard to say, outside the little social life among relatives and a few friends, what are the amusements of the Egyptian lady. She sings, she generally plays some musical instrument now it is the piano for the educated girl, and in nearly every house of means is found the Victrola [gramophone], with songs in Arabic and English, French and Italian. In Cairo she has much more opportunity of being .... , as she can go to the theatre, the opera, and even on little shopping tours to the big European shops or to the tiny bazaars in the native quarter. In the smaller cities and villages she is restricted to the fetes and festivities of her social sphere.

 

There are many magazines and papers, novels and books of every kind printed in Arabic, for the women who are not advanced enough to read those in French or English, and now, when education for the woman has become such a fetish in Egypt, these popular educators are found in every home. If the mother cannot read them and few of the women of the older day can read the daughter and the grand-daughters can read to them the news of the world, and there are few women who have not at least a superficial knowledge of what is passing outside their walls.

Reflecting the mood and style of their times, the Arab traveler and scholar al-Muqaddasi and the British writer Rudyard Kipling summed up Egypt for their contemporaries. Kipling intended to amuse his readers; a thousand years earlier, and a half-millennium after Herodotus, al-Muqaddasi gave a serious interpretation. It is al-Muqaddasi who truly stands the test of time.

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