Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Siwa Oasis - Part 8 : The House of Siwa : The Grandmother...and the gun

This is the Eighth in a beautiful series of articles written by my friend Gabi Philips who has spent an extended period of time in Siwa.

Also Read
Part 1 : Transportation
Part 2 : Where to Stay
Part 3 : Where to Stay (contd)
Part 4 : Shali
Part 5 : Places to Visit
Part 6 : Aghourmy : The Oracle & the Broken Rock
Part 7 : Cleopatra Spring, the mountains & Fatanas island

The House of Siwa:
It was built recently to demonstrate how the traditional houses of Siwa were built. Its exhibits show glimpses of how daily life used to be, the traditional dresses and the jewelry.

At the entrance of the house there are three mannequins wearing three different dresses usually worn by the bride on the first, third and seventh days after her wedding. On the first day for her friends (ladies of course), on the third day for her aunts, and on the seventh day for her mother (yes, the mother doesn't visit except on the seventh day).
There is a warm corner in the house where the grandmother used to sit every night and gather the children around her for story telling: stories about their history, heroes and culture. The guide taking me around sadly remarked "but now the hero on TV, is the one who has the gun in his hand, not the one with good manners".

I heard this a couple of years ago, but understood it last October when I attended the annual celebration. ALL the kids had plastic guns in their hand and were "shooting" each other. I was shot twice, before a kind old man told the kids not to play/bother older guests.

I think as a "Siwan kid" after watching TV "the hero is the one having a gun in his hand not the one who is well mannered as the grandmother used to say :("

More pictures can be seen at :

When the "House of Siwa" was newly constructed a couple of years ago, it was operated voluntarily by some people from the town council (magles elmadina), now there is a trained employee who is in charge.

Visiting Hours:
From October to March: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. and 2 - 5 p.m.
From April to September: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. and 4 - 7 p.m.

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