Dalila El Kerdany

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.26687/archnet-ijar.v2i3.279


As time goes on, the number of public bathhouses (hammams) is decreasing in Cairo, which might lead to the disappearance of an important popular heritage that used to contribute to different aspects of the city life. This paper provides an understanding of some of the factors that threaten the heritage of hammams, while pointing out to two major factors that might look different in ideology but form a strong threat to the survival of the hammam folklore. These are “Modernization” and “Islamic Fundamentalism”. The paper reviews theories in anthropology concerned with the process of “production” and “reproduction” of folklore in general and the traditional public bath in particular. Based on recent field studies that recorded changes in the function of two currently operating historic hammams in Cairo, Hammam al-malatili (Margoush) in Nahassen quarter and Hammam Bab al-Bahr in Bab al-Shareyah quarter, both tangible and non-tangible dimensions of heritage are examined. Finally, the paper discusses future directions in the reproduction of hammam folklore.


Cairo Islamic architecture; Hammam; Folklore reproduction; building operations

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