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By: Salwa Samir

Yes. You read the headline correctly. There was a doctor called Naguib Mahfouz. Millions of Egyptians and Arabs know the literary legend Naguib Mahfouz, the writer of the notable work, the Cairo Trilogy. Egypt’s other Naguib Mahfouz, is less famous than the Nobel laureate.

Inside El-Kasr El-Aini School of Medicine in central Cairo there is a medical gem that dates back to 1930. It is the Middle East and Africa’s oldest and most comprehensive depository of gynaecological and obstetrical pathologic specimens.

It is called, the Museum of Naguib Mahfouz Pasha (1882-1974), the founder of Egypt’s first dedicated Obstetrics and Gynaecology (Ob/Gyn) service at the University.

Dr Ahmed El-Minawi, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Kasr El-Aini School of Medicine and the Museum Curator, said, “The museum contains some 1350 jars of the obstetrics and gynaecology specimens obtained from Dr Mahfouz’ operations.”

The displayed specimens cover a large range of common and rare obstetrical and gynaecological conditions.

The story began at the beginning of the 20th Century when Professor Mahfouz decided to study Obstetrics because of the suffering he saw women go through at that time.

So, in 1905 he convinced the Dean of the Kasr El-Aini Medical School, Dr Keating, to allow him to start an obstetrics and gynaecology service, the first of its kind in Egypt.

During those early years, Dr Mahfouz treated thousands of cases and collected very rare specimens which he later donated to be displayed in the Museum.

The museum achieved high acclaim and its specimens were catalogued in a British-published three-volume atlas in 1947.

In 1945, the museum was described by the then President of England’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists,Sir Eardley Holland, as “a remarkable collection” and ” a wonderful monument to the name of its founder”.

The museum is primarily dedicated to aiding in the education, training and continuing professional development of doctors.

Dr El-Minawi said that the museum was using digital technology to make it easier for students and visitors in general to access the collection by using QR (quick response) codes to provide more detailed information to the visitor and a description of the pathology specimens.

The museum is equipped with dioramas to facilitate the provision of historical information and for descriptive purposes.

The Ob/Gyn Department has established an annual award for major scientific contributions to the field of Ob/Gyn, whether locally or internationally with the aim of showing gratitude to, and in commemoration of, Professor Mahfouz.

The first recipient was Professor Kypros Nicolaides of King’s College in the UK, for his substantial contributions to Fetal Medicine.

He received the Award in Cairo in March 2018. The award is a large medal, made of 950 Silver, weighing a substantial 380gms, with a bust of Professor Mahfouz on the front.

VICTORIA, Canada, May 16, 2018 (News Wires) - The Royal B.C. Museum has had its share of blockbuster exhibitions, and the upcoming Egypt: The Time of Pharaohs is the equal of any of them, says museum chief executive Jack Lohman. “It’s one of the greatest shows, I think, this museum has ever put on.”

The exhibition opens on Friday and continues until Dec. 31. The film Mysteries of Egypt will play at the Imax Victoria Theatre throughout the run.

Victoria is the show’s only scheduled Canadian stop, but it has some American destinations and interest has been expressed by a museum in Sydney, Australia.

Lohman said the ancient Egyptian civilization the show depicts “marks the dawn of the human spirit” and has been unveiled through the work of generations of archeologists.

The first section of the exhibit delves into the Nile River, considered the civilization’s lifeline. Lohman said the show looks not just at those in power, but at many other facets of life in ancient Egypt.

“When you think of ancient Egypt, you think of these great pyramids, you think of the Sphinx, you think of granite obelisks — all these monuments,” Lohman said. “Well, it wasn’t practical to bring these monumental pieces here.

“But what we have done is we’ve brought 330 absolutely exquisite pieces from some of the finest archeological collections.”

The artifacts on display provide a special look at the past, Lohman said.

He said they are “vestiges of history” that cover a large time span, and there is a sense of intimacy from being so close to them.

Wafaa El Saddik, former director the Egyptian Museum of Cairo, also pointed to the varied overview of the civilization.

“It has many different aspects,” she said. “The exhibition is unique because it’s showing the life of the ancient Egyptian, not only the very famous objects of the pharaohs and the queens, but also the daily life of the ancient Egyptian — how the Nile affected this great civilization. “You have here a history of 3,500 years.”

El Saddik said the fact that many museums around the world have Egypt collections made it relatively easy to get the needed artifacts together.

Content for the exhibition comes from four key collections contained at the Egyptian Museum in Berlin, the Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum in Hildesheim, Germany, the Gustav Lübcke Museum in Hamm, Germany, and the University Museum of Aberdeen in Scotland.

The largest portion of the content is from the Hildesheim facility, El Saddik said.

Six pharaohs are being featured, including Hatshepsut, one of the few women who rose to the position. A 3,500-year-old, 790-kilogram sandstone bust of her is among the show’s highlights.

Also on exhibit is a 4,000-year-old wooden coffin that belonged to an official named Nakht. Museum-goers can visit a replica tomb, as well.

The show opening coincides with the annual B.C. Museums Week, a celebration of museums, art galleries and other institutions around the province.

London, May, 9, 2018 (News Wires) -  A waxwork of Meghan Markle wearing a replica of her diamond engagement ring was unveiled yesterday at London's Madame Tussauds museum, less than two weeks before her wedding to Prince Harry.

"Excitement ahead of the royal wedding is reaching fever pitch and we have been inundated with questions about when people can finally meet Their Royal Likenesses," general manager Edward Fuller said.

The likeness of the US former television actress is in a green dress like the one she wore when the couple, who are getting married at Windsor Castle on May 19, announced their engagement in November.

By Salwa Samir

A life-sized statue of the French King, Louis IX, sitting on a chair with hands in handcuffs, is one of the important items on display in Ibn Luqman House, in the city of Mansoura, 128km north of Cairo. The house, known as Mansoura’s National Museum, was built by Egyptian judge Ibrahim Ibn Luqman in the 13th century, towards the end of the Crusades in the Near East.

The story began in the mid-13th Century when King Louis IX of France announced that he would lead the Seventh Crusade, with the aim of taking over Egypt, which the crusaders considered as the greatest obstacle to recovering Jerusalem, which they had lost for the second time in 1244.

A part of their campaign in Egypt was the Battle of El-Mansoura which lasted four days, starting on February 8, 1250. It was between the crusaders led by Louis IX and the Ayyubid forces led by Baibars al-Bunduqdari, the Emir Fakhr-ad-Din Yusuf and Faris ad-Din Aktai. The crusaders were defeated with 30,000 of them killed.

The defeated French King Louis IX surrendered and asked for his life to be spared and the lives of his entourage and especially his family.

He was held captive for 22 days in Dar Ibrahim bin Luqman. As a condition for setting him free, the Egyptians required the liberation of Damietta, which had fallen to the crusaders before they reached Mansoura, and the evacuation of the crusading campaign.

They also demanded payment of a large ransom for the king and his senior officers. The king accepted and paid a ransom of 10 million francs.
The two-storey Ibn Luqman House is in central Mansoura, in Port Said Street. It was built in the Arab style, with a Salamlek (a place for men) and a Haramlek, (a place for women).

The first floor consists of two sections, one to the right and one to the left. There are two rooms on the right, each with a small window. The two rooms that used to be on the left of the entrance were rebuilt into a spacious hall with huge paintings chronicling the history of the Crusades and the Battle of Mansoura.

There is also a bust of Saladin on display and a collection of armour and weapons used during that period, such as spears, arrows, and daggers. Between the two sections there is a large courtyard with a wooden ladder going up to the second floor.

There is only one room on the second floor and it is the one in which Louis IX was held captive. It has a window and is furnished with a wooden sofa, a wall closet and a huge chair with a seated statue of King Louis in handcuffs.

The Ibn Luqman House is the only museum in Mansoura, whose name means: “The Victorious”.


Sohag National Museum

By Salwa Samir

Sohag Governorate celebrated the opening of its national museum this month, when 25 years of intermittent work on the museum will be completed.

Elham Salah, the head of the Museums’ Sector at the Ministry of Antiquities, recently announced to the press that the artefacts which will be displayed in the museum had come from the excavation work being carried out in Sohag, on the west bank of the Nile.

She added that the museum would showcase 124 outstanding artefacts that were selected from Cairo's Islamic Art and Textile museums to adorn the halls of Sohag’s National Museum.

These pieces include a collection of earthenware vessels in different sizes, forms and colours.

There are wooden portraits and there is a painting on cloth depicting a man standing near a river in a rural area.

There is a small Persian manuscript that narrates the Arabic poetic play, Layla and Majnun, penned by veteran Egyptian poet Ahmed Shauoqi, which tells the 7th Century love story of Qais ibn Al-Mulawah and his sweetheart Layla.

And there are handwritten copies of Islam’s Holy book, the Qur’an, dating back to the 12th Century.

One of the museum’s halls presents information about kings and other important figures from ancient times. Each display case shows how, for thousands of years, each king was the pillar of the state.

This is reflected in the carving of the ruler’s name not only on his own statues, temple or tomb, but also on other antiquities belonging to the personalities who held the many public posts of the state.

Salah pointed out that repeated mention of the ruler's name reveals that any ruler of ancient Egypt had many functions inside and outside the state. He was the ruler and he commanded the army. This is illustrated by a display of the weapons of war which he used.

She added that Egyptian civilisation had produced many innovations, such as the “product cards” which were in use thousands of years BC.

The museum has a collection of cartouches that were made of ivory, chronicling the names of kings; and there are clay seals on which the name of a product was written and the date it was produced.

Another hall focuses on the Upper Egyptian families and the significant role of Egyptian women within the family: how they were concerned with their children and their husband, while taking care of their own beauty.

Salah said that the museum showed that ancient Egyptians were interested in maintaining their health and were aware of how they should cook, dry or store food, to keep it from going bad. On display are sets of cooking utensils.

According to Salah, the work on Sohag National Museum started in 1993 and stopped for logistical reasons. It was resumed in 2006 but stopped again in 2011 after the 25 January Revolution.

The work restarted in 2016 and in April, the museum will be ready to receive visitors.


By Salwa Samir

The awe-inspiring rococo interior of the 20th Century Aisha Fahmy Palace in Zamalek is the backdrop for an exhibition entitled “Treasures of Our Art Museums: Masterpieces of Coptic and Islamic Textiles”.
On display for the first time in the grand salons of the Palace, resplendent with silk-clad walls, is a collection of textiles.The collection adds grandeur to this historic Palace that belonged to Ali Fahmy, who was King Farouk's army chief. He named it after his daughter. The Palace is now known as the Arts Centre.
Visitors can see the skill and artistry used in weaving textiles in the Coptic and Islamic periods. During the two eras, textiles were the focus of a great deal of attention and weavers reached a peak of creativity in terms of design, choice of material and decorative elements. The collection which is on display was taken from the Gezira Museum in Cairo.
The historical roots of this art date back to Ancient Egypt. There are scenes of the spinning and weaving of linen on the walls of the tombs in Luxor.
The ancient Egyptians used textiles in their funeral rites and linen strips were used during the mummification process. In Coptic times, designers traced the Pharaonic legends and developed them to serve the Christian religion. On display is a canvas in which a knight on a horse is depicted capturing his prey. The canvas was inspired by the legend of Horus attacking the god of evil Seth, to signify the ability of religion to save the world from evil.
Woven into the textiles from the Coptic are motifs of primitive animals and birds, half-human figures, knights and botanical and geometric patterns.
There is a canvas dating back to the 6th Century depicting two Abyssinian children. A Coptic-Egyptian mesh textile of the 7th Century is also on display. And there is a canvas from the 5th Century measuring 22x10cms, and a fragment of a Coptic-Byzantine shirt from the 6th Century measuring 114x37cm.
The textile industry continued to develop during the Ottoman era and was widespread in Egypt, Turkey, the Levant and North Africa. The textiles were characterised by a diversity of motifs which were naturalistic, representing flowers or compound leaves. The Ottomans wove the Kiswah of the Kaaba and the covers of shrines, which included inscriptions of Quranic verses and the sayings of the Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him).
Visitors to the exhibition will notice how the weavers largely used the same raw materials. Starting in the 4th Century, the use of silk became widespread. Egypt knew the manufacture of silk textiles starting with the Ptolemaic dynasty, and Alexandria was famous for producing the Roman emperors’ clothes.
During the Islamic era, the silk industry flourished in Sicily and Egypt during the Ayyubid and Mamluke periods.
On display are: a colourful sofa cover from India dating back to the 19th Century, a square tablecloth from the 18th Century and the huge cover of a mihrab (pulpit) from the 18th Century, measuring 305x165cms.
“I have never seen an example of weaving as magnificent as this before. It shows just how clever and ingenious the weavers were,” Rana told the Egyptian Mail, as she contemplated a prayer rug with Quranic verses intricately woven into the design, dating back to the 16th Century.
“I am really pleased, as a member of the public, to be able to see these treasures made by our ancient artisans, for free,” Rana said, as she photographed the work of art. The exhibition is open daily from 9am to 9pm except Fridays. It will run until April 12.

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