For hundreds of years, Ramadan has been connected to lanterns in Egypt. Weeks ahead of the start of the holy month, streets become filled with vendors selling lanterns of every shape and size. Just like any other industry in Egypt, Chinese products have recently dominated the sphere, erasing any existence of local production. With much cheaper prices and competing quality, people are turning to lower priced products. Despite that, some lantern artisans in Egypt refuse to give up on the handicraft, as they know no other source of income.
Many handicraft workshops are located in Sayeda Zeinab. Just like a lot of other crafts in Egypt, workers inherited making lanterns from their parents and grandparents. For them, walking away from it is akin to abandoning history and heritage, so it is not an option from their point of view.
The captured small workshop belongs to Atef Hassan, in his mid-30s, who inherited it from his father, who in turn also inherited it from his father. Hassan’s life is similar to hundreds of other families who rely on certain seasons to sell their crafts.
Both Atef and his father still work in the workshop. They start producing lanterns months before Ramadan.
Each Ramadan season, they decide the trends that should be featured on the lanterns. This year, Egyptian footballer Mohamed Salah is the most in demand.
All photos taken by Ahmed Hendawy