When we talk about Egypt we have to talk about alabaster. Everywhere one goes, alabaster objects are sure to be found in shops, houses and of course, at the Egyptian Antiquities Museum. The use of alabaster in Egypt dates well back into the Pharaonic period of Egyptian history, and this is very evident when one visits the temples, tombs and museums.Pieces of alabaster from ancient Egypt seem to turn up constantly.
Egyptian alabaster is found in two places, a few miles behind the Valley of the Kings in Luxor (ancient Thebes) and the Malawi area. Some Alabaster factories in Luxor and Aswan prefer to get their alabaster material from Malawi where transport is easier, although stone from Luxor can still be brought in by horse and cart. However, each vein of alabaster has its own unique colour and characteristic.
Alabaster-shaping is a skill that boasts a millennia-old history and a noble tradition that can be felt in almost every nook and cranny of the country. The secrets of the manufacturing of this warm and luminous stone have been handed down from generation to generation, throughout the ages, and still represent one of the pinnacles of Egyptian handicrafts.
'Several millenniums have passed since the ancient Egyptians began to work with alabaster, and in spite of problems along the way, Egyptian artisans have not lost the knowledge of how to handle this material. Even though this branch of the industry no longer represents a vital factor in Egypt's economy, it is still a characteristic element of its culture and its history. Only a small number of artisans are left knowing how to handle Alabaster. It's up to the remaining businesses in Luxor and the West Bank to preserve this old tradition and to keep this handicraft going for future generations.
Our thanks go to the Egyptian Fair Trade Organization for information contained in this article.