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Egyptian Artist Celebrates Haj Pilgrimage by Painting Murals on Houses in Cairo

Sometimes he volunteers to paint scenes that celebrate the haj and religious stories and lessons, other times he is paid

Eid Al Salwaawi, 69, paints murals of the rituals of the haj pilgrimage on the walls of a house in Cairo’s Sayeda Zainab neighbourhood. Sometimes he volunteers to paint scenes that celebrate the haj and religious stories and lessons, other times he is paid.

Every year, Muslims travel from around the world to the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia to complete the haj, one of the five pillars of their faith. This year’s haj will conclude on Sunday.

Salwaawi said the haj scenes he saw on the walls of houses in his home village as a child in northern Aswan captured his imagination. “So I draw camel caravans and soldiers wearing traditional hats guarding them,” he said. He uses simple tools like a handmade palm frond brush and a mixture of paint, vinegar, rosewater, gum Arabic and glue.

haj pilgrimage, murals
The artist Eid Al Salwaawi paints murals about the holy Kaaba and the rituals of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, in Cairo, Egypt, July 17, 2019. VOA

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One mural depicts women as they embark on the pilgrimage, dressed in bright colours, another shows a caravan carrying the tapestry that covers the Kaaba, the holiest site in Islam.

It was built by the Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim), with the help of his son, Ishmael. (Ismail). Salwaawi adorns his works with prayers and Koranic verses. Each mural takes him between two and three hours to finish. (VOA)

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