a land of bright accents

I’ve been on vacation in Egypt.

Now, there’s a short sentence for a long, long story, but all the details don’t belong in my dye blog. I do want to record a few thoughts about the colors of Egypt, though.

The colors of Ancient Egypt are well-known to anyone interested in the historical period: garnet red, turquoise and lapis blues, jasper green, and the yellow of sand alongside the yellow of gold. When you stand in the temples of Karnak and Luxor, you have to look hard to find them these days, as the years have scoured away most of the beautiful colors. When you do find a gaily-painted area of ceiling, you have to stretch your imagination — how did this place look when every wall and column was so colorful? It is easy to see why Westerners in the 1920s looked at this beautiful architecture and carried the lines and images home to become part of the Art Deco movement.

The colors of modern Egypt are quite different. People wear browns and greys and blacks. The big cities are rather grubby and the air is hazy with pollution. But as you stand on the corner, watch for the bright accents: the older lady dressed all in black but for her cherry-blossom-pink head scarf. The man in the faded old gallibeya with the rich burgundy turban. The girl with the elbow-length gray headscarf and skirt… with slits on the sides revealing her brilliant turquoise underskirt. As you drive along a street choked with traffic and piles of concrete rubble from a construction side, suddenly you come upon a vendor’s cart piled high with brilliant orange and red carrots and beautiful pale green cabbages the size of basketballs!

There is still beautiful color in Egypt. Just look for it.


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