This painting depicts a young woman bringing her geese to an Egyptian market in Cairo. This market is a trading place for local merchants unaccustomed to modern modes of transportation. Donkeys transfer their owner’s produce in small carts or stacked upon their backs. Crates, sacks of grain, handmade baskets, and various necessities of life are displayed in front of dilapidated market shops partially shaded with makeshift tattered awnings. Another word for market is souqs, but market or bazaar is commonly used.
I hoped to achieve a fundamental sense of simplicity of Egyptian market life in this painting not only with the subject matter but also in the crude application of paint in an impasto style.

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Information about Egyptian civilization

The basic element in the lengthy history of Egyptian civilization is geography. The Nile River rises from the lakes of central Africa as the White Nile and from the mountains of Ethiopia as the Blue Nile. The White and Blue Nile meet at Khartoum and flow together northward to the Nile delta, where the 4000 mile course of this river spills into the Mediterranean Sea.

Egyptian Civilization ResourcesLess than two inches of rain per year falls in the Egyptian delta and rain is relatively unknown in other parts of Egypt. Most of the land is uninhabitable. These geographical factors have determined the character of Egyptian civilization. People could farm only along the banks of the Nile, where arid sand meets the fertile soil. Of course, each summer the Nile swells as the rains pour down and the snow melts on the mountains. The river overflows its banks and floods the Egyptian land with fresh water and deposits a thick layer of rich alluvial soil. The land would then yield two harvests before winter. This yearly flood determined more than just the agricultural needs of early Egypt. It also determined the lifecycle of society and helped to create the world view of ancient Egyptian civilization.

The basic source of Egyptian history is a list of rulers compiled in c.280 B.C. by Manetho for the Macedonians who ruled Egypt. Manetho divided Egyptian kings into thirty dynasties (a 31st was added later) in the following manner.

The Egyptians had a very clear idea of the afterlife. They took great care to bury their dead according to Egyptian convention and supplied the grave with things that the departed would need for a pleasant life after death. The Egyptian pharaoh and some nobles had their bodies preserved in a process of mummification. Their tombs were decorated with paintings, food was provided at burial and after. Some  Egyptian tombs even included full sized sailing vessels for the voyage to heaven and beyond. At first, only pharaohs were thought to achieve eternal life, however, nobles were eventually included, and finally all Egyptians could hope for immortality.

One of the pleasures of Cairo is to get lost in a market or bazaar (souqs) and take in the sights, smells and sounds of life in all its chaos and glory. A carpet market is very popular among tourists as well as a market that sells unique clothing and veils. An Egyptian market can remind us of a world that has changed little in hundreds of years.

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