Friday, January 4, 2008

Jejak al-Misr 6: Alabaster of al-Aqsar(Luxor)

Abu Shanab Pharoah of Alabaster
tokasid BQ

"Ahlan wa sahlan!Welcome!Welcome!",we were greeted by an elderly Egyptian man wearing a galabaiya and white serban.

"Come,come closer here",he waved his hands prompting us to gather around him into a shed.

"Closer,closer so you hear me clear. I am Abu Shanab, pharoah of alabaster.",he told us,introducing himself." Now,I tell you how to make alabaster. I make no. 1 alabaster1", he claimed.

"Now listen carefully what I tell you. Behind here, my workers do alabaster" he pointed to few of his workers who were holding some instruments and few pieces of limestone rocks. They were smiling shyly to us. Their eyes downward whenever someone wanted to take their photos.

Abu Shanab briefing us
tokasid BQ

Abu Shanab continued with his explaination on how things are made.From pieces of stone until a vase or bust or anything is produced. He showed us the simple instruments they use in his 'factory'(like our IKS/SMI)

After about 10 minutes, he invited us into his exhibition hall/shop for a drink, hibiscus juice and to look at the products( hoping we will buy something).

Inside the shop, there were carvings of various objects and subject of varying sizes and colors.
There are bust of King Tut, bust of Nefertiti(Akhenaten's queen. Akhenaten was label as the heretic pharoah for he practised monotheistic belief), figures of Anubis, vases, ashtrays,lampshades and others.

Everything looks so beautifully crafted. Abu Shanab cajoled us to buy his products but I guess all of us were tired of the long flight and the visit to Valley of the Kings. Nobody bought anything from Abu Shanab. He thanked us for coming . We thanked him for his hospitality and kindness.

We then boarded our bus and headed for Colossiof Memnon( see part 3)

Traditional instruments in Alabaster factory
tokasid BQ

Abu Shanab's workers giving a demo
tokasid BQ

Abu Shanab's exhibition hall

Final products of Alabaster
Hafiz N73

Bust of Nefertiti
tokasid BQ

Kandungan posting mungkin ada kena mengena atau tidak dengan makhluk yang hidup atau yang telah tiada.Kalau sapa-sapa terasa nak buat macamana kan. Sapa makan cabai melaka dia pedaih laa


Kerp (Ph.D) said...

'Pharoah of Alabaster'. seriously doc, what does it mean by that? King of alabaster? I swear i've never heard about this alabaster thing, until ofcourse you posted about it. thanks for the link provided. did you buy anything from the pharoah btw?

tokasid said...


Alabaster is like what we called marble over here.Its of limestone.
There are lots of limestone hills in lower and upper Egypt so they used lots of that. At most pyramids are of limestones.

If we go to upper Egypt(South Egypt) around Aswan and the Nubian areas the hills are of granite in nature, so they don't have alabaster cottage industry there.

No, didn't buy anything form the pharoah of alabaster.

Zabs said...

Salam Tokasid,
What do think of them, making this idol like crafts as souvenirs?. Hovever the pictures are good thanks to Hafiz too.

tokasid said...

Pak Zabs:

that the part yang saya kurang setuju. Di mana-mana ada saja souvenirs dalam bentut bust of Nefertiti,bust of King Tut dan macam2.
Atas alasan itu kami tak beli sangat walaupun cantik-cantik.

Utk peniaga di sana ,mungkin mereka dah dapat fatwa dari Mufti al-Azhar kot,wallahu'alam.

blackpurple @ jowopinter said...

Salam doc,

Kalau ada rezeki ke sana, saya juga tak akan melepaskan peluang melawat ke kilang Alabaster itu. Unik!

tokasid said...

Wak Pinter:

Memang unik. Saya pernah melawat kilang marble di langkawi dulu tapi semua guna mesin. Di kilang Abu Shanab masih buat cara tradisional.Gerudi sana,gerudi sini,ketuk sana pahat sini kikis sana ukir sini.Dan hasilnya memang cantik-cantik. Dia juga demo macamana nak tahu alabaster original atau tiruan. Bila tutup semua lampu, bilik jadi 'glow' dan cantik.

InsyaALLAh ada rezki saya syorkan kawan2 ziarah sana.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

another new stuff learned. pyramids are actually made of limestones.

tapi soalan Pak Zabs tu paling menarik. never thought of that at all. sedangkan egypt is 98% muslim population. betul ke?

cakapaje said...

Salam Doc,

Hmm...later on in your entry about Egypt, leh give us the total cost per person, including pocket money? I'm tempted myself now.

muteaudio said...

Salam tok,
Apa kata kita buat macam tu kat Petaling Street. Pergi kat gerai jual bebarang, pastu tanya macam2 soalan dan tak jadi beli. Agaknya layanan macam mana yg kita dpt?

Kata Tak Nak said...

La awat you tak beli miniature hotel room complete with China Doll, all made in Alabaster.

Fauziah Ismail said...

Salam Tokasid
They are without a doubt creative artisans but their works are mostly based on the icons and idols.
Malang sungguh sebab hasil kerja mereka bagus.
Kalau dia tailor-made their souvenirs to muslim travellers, dah tentu tourism revenue dia akan meningkat.

tokasid said...


Pyramids are mainly limestones, so all the hakisan that you see on it.
However, each blocks of limestones is about 5-7 tonnes!And they Great Pyramid of Cheops( the first pharoah to claim he is god, the 2nd is Ramses II) was said to have 20,000 limestone blocks!!That is something,right?

You are right, most of the souvenirs esp carvings of stones(limestones and granites) and woodcarving are based on 'idol' of ancient Egypt.That is the reason we didn't buy anything. At the bazaar, there are lots of imitation produced of similar subjects and objects.

As for selling it, personally I don't think its a right thing to do,but I am sure there must be fatwas given out from the Grand Mufti or from al-Azhar.Even paintings on papyrus are based on ancient Egypt characters.But at least on papyrus they do have khat writings of surah.

tokasid said...


We booked our trip during the Matta fare PWTC ,so we got in less by 400-500 per pax.I think its about 4500 per pax( my wife did everything from scouting,bookings and paying) But you should look at newspaper adverts during the Matta fare.

Pocket money..its up to you. For the 3 of us I brought about US700, and by the time we arrived at KLIA I still have about US150( after some shopping in Doha airport).

I think RM 500 - 6K dah lebih dari cukup.

tokasid said...


Kilang alabaster tu is part of the planned trip for the groups. That place is like a tour operators' must stop centre. And Abu Shanab was very accomodative to his visitors and I feel bad that no one bought anything there.that was our first shopping stop by they way, and most folks were very unfamiliar about the Egyptian pound -USdollar-RM exchange.

And I think Malaysian tourists, if they perceived something might be expensive,they shut themselves up.

In the bazaars (Aswan,Luxor and Cairo the traders are very active. They'll come to you and shoving their trade into your hands.Some in our group find it scarry but I guess thats the normal thing to do in tourist spots all over( cuma kat Malaysia ni tradewrs kita saja dok dalam kedai dan tunggu org masuk.Bila org masuk pun dia boleh buat tak tau saja,betoi tak?).
In Egypt they will hassle you but once they know you are not interested, they'll stop bothering you( unlike in Borobodur, they fllow you sampai ke bas)

I guess in Petaling street same thing too, but not Bandar Hilir Melaka. the traders will sit on their chair inside their stalls and do the waiting game.

tokasid said...


mana nak belinya, depa tak buat miniature hotel room pun. Miniature jamban pun tarak!LOL.

tokasid said...


Very talented indeed.
maybe its the historical egypt is what most tourist wanted, esp from Europe and Japan,Korea and China.

Kata Tak Nak said...

I could have sworn I wrote in a comment yesterday?

Anyway does he have a miniature room complete with CCTVs all carved in Alabaster?

Would be a good farewell present for a certain someone.

Mat Salo said...

Pak Doc..

What can I say? The travelogue is brilliant! I like the way you draw the reader by using actual conversations --it grips the reader more. You're getting better, much better. Bravo!

On another subject Pak Doc, banyak missed concert nih. On the local scene Andhra & The Backbone and Dewa toured Malaysia recently. Pastu Feb. 4 upcoming The Police at SG Indoor Stadium (Tiket SGD600 masih ada--what?). Feb. 18 lak Santana same venue. But yang paling frust I will miss is March 15 in Stadium Negara -- TOTO!!! Heard Leland Sklar replaced Mike Porcaro sebab tangan terpele'ot ke apa. Ini laa susah keje jauh-jauh... Salaam.

tokasid said...


Kah3..nice one there. I don't think in Egypt they need to do the miniature yet.Maybe we have it in Ayer Itam Johor but that will be of clay.And from Ayer Itam it can be more accurate since its very near to the hotel.

tokasid said...

Pak Mat Salo:

Makasih ak,makasih.

TOTO in March? Wow! That is one date that must be in the agenda.Its saturday!

Doesn't matter who replaced whom,if its TOTO live, thats gonna be good musicianship.


Mat Salo said...

Jangan tak pergi Pak Dog, then PLEASE write a review for us (ME!). Dengar Greg Philinganes on Keyboards. Steve Lukather, Bobby Kimball, aaah.. mantep!

Oh ya, nanti find out Madura ke tak, Pak. Kayak nya macam iya..

Mior Azhar said...

Tok Doc,
Juice Bunga Raya? Sedap ker?

Zawi said...

Ain't there anything at all that doesnt represent a figure? What about the price? Are they reasonable? Love to bring something made of marble home when I do Egypt one day(should be something small enough so as not to add to my excess baggage).

tokasid said...

Pak MS:

Kalu bisa saya ngak mau miss konsert TOTO pak.Tapi perlu di jelas-in dong pak. Saya ngak pernah membeli kartu Toto cuma pernah beli-in CD TOTO.


tokasid said...

Pak Mior:

Saya pun terkejut sebab ada jus bunga raya.Rasa masam2 sikit tapi sedap. Very popular esp in Luxor and Aswan.

tokasid said...

Pak Zawi:

Well,most are figures of human/pahroah/queen or the so called ancient Egyptian gods/godesses.

Maybe the only thing that doesn't fit into that is the pyramid and the obelix.