Friday, April 3, 2009

Tombs of Mohammad Ali's Family

Mohammad Ali had twenty wives, twentythree daughters, and seventeen sons (according to our tour guide). They are buried in tombs located in the City of the Dead. Number One Son and VB visited "The Tombs of Mohammad Ali's Family". Of all the places he has seen (Giza, Saqqara, The Citadel, The Cave Churches at Mokkatam, Alexandria) this was Number One Son's favorite by far. The tomb contains Mohhamad Ali's first and favorite wife, children, and grandchildren. Servants and other non-blood related individuals are also buried here. We were able to salvage some photos of our tour. Number One Son's photos are pretty damn good. VB's needed much tinkering, and are pretty damn grainy (noisy?) when enlarged. Remind VB not to play with the shutter, when she doesn't know WTF she's doing!

The differences between the various headstones is described below. In addition, the burials are below ground, with more shrines located outside. According to our guide, between the gravestones, below the ground, is a hallway with doors to access each chamber. Difficult to tell from walking around in the domed rooms, but visible on the exterior sites.

As much as she tried, VB could find very little in the guidebooks, or on the Internet to help jog her memory. There are so many tombstones and notes were not recorded, so VB's memory isn't very good on who exactly is buried where.
And even though some of the photos (particularly VB's when enlarged are crappy), they do give you a view of what you're missing. VB had planned on doing this the last time Number One Son visited, but we got a Christian driver. Needless to say, he was not so keen on doing what VB wanted, and we ended up at the Cave Churches at Mokkatam instead. Still, we finally got here, and VB wants to see more of The City of the Dead.

(Below from Number One Son): Under one of the domes. There are five domes.

(Below from Number One Son): A domed ceiling.

(Below from Number One Son): A shot of graves with headstones signifying adult sons.

(Below from Number One Son): The domed ceiling and chandelier above this set of graves.

(Below from VB): Close-up of the headstones. This one is wearing a crown indicating a married woman.

(Below from VB): A side view of the shrine.

(below from Number One Son): Another domed ceiling.

(Below from VB): A close-up view.

(Below from VB): Another room scene.

From Islamic Monuments in Cairo By Caroline Williams, Richard Bordeaux Parker, Robin Sabin, Jaroslaw Dobrowolski, Ola Seif.

"The cenotaphs are exuberantly carved with flowers, garlands, and fronds and are gilded and painted in bright colors. A stela at the head topped by a distinctive coiffure or head-covering indicates the rank and sex of the deceased. Men are identified by turbans or fezzes, women by coronets. For the women, there is a further distinction: braids in relief denote a royal mother; painted braids, a royal wife; and a coil of loosely caught hair, often sprinkled with golden tears, indicates a virgin princess." (Page 126)

(Below from VB): A crowned woman with painted braids.

(Below from VB): A young unmarried girl.

(Below from VB): A son.

(Below from VB): A mass grave. Turbans signify males.

(Below two photos, from VB): Smaller graves.

(Below from Number One Son): The outdoor covered walkway between the entrance (Mosque area) and the tombs.

Later: Up on the roof.

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