Simple People from Egypt

I recently posted about Robert Hay’s engravings of Cairo, While cleaning out some of my own files, I came across a calendar from 1995 – “Simple People from Egypt” – that had been given to me by a friend and colleague, Elhamy Naguib, whom I met in Cairo while working on a translation project.

I have always loved these images, and now that digitization and sharing is so easy, I thought it time to share with others.

Elhamy worked hard to develop his talent, and has done a wonderful job in an impressionistic way of rendering the nature of Egyptian street scenes. I especially love the faces. They capture the good-hearted nature of the people of Egypt, who – like many of the people of the Middle East – illuminate their country and are not represented by the fanatical, misguided loons who are getting so much media attention these days.

Having spent a fair amount of time in Cairo and other places around the Arabic-speaking world, these images speak to me; somewhere in the world, the originals of these paintings exist, it is to be hoped. I would be honored to have any one of them hanging on my wall.

All images copyright ©1994-2015 Graffiti, designed by Elhamy Naguib



Coming home from school as a child, I passed by a man and his wife on a street corner by my parents’ house. They were selling water cress, radishes, parsley and dill in small quantities. Their simple inventory stayed practically the same for over thirty years, until they died one after the other. My attitude has changed from irritation at their complacency to an admiration of their contentment and serenity.

In the rat race of the big city, I looked for people like them on the streets and asked myself the same question over and over again: “How does one achieve such serenity?” My feelings for them are a mixture of love, sympathy, and envy. In these paintings, I pay tribute to the couple mentioned above and to others like them. I cherish all the lessons they teach me.

-Elhamy Naguib, 1994

Tea Break

Tea Break

Fly Swatters

Fly Swatters



Shop Keeper

Shop Keeper











Clay Water Bottles

Clay Water Pots

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin Seeds



As Elhamy cherished the memories of the people he encountered in his life, so I cherish my memory of him. These beautiful paintings serve to remind me that my own memories of Egypt are ones of peace and beauty.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Six Views of Cairo – Robert Hay

The six lithographs below were published by the American University in Cairo Press in 1983. They were found among my mother’s possessions; she spent years in Egypt on various assignments from World War II to the 1970s.


A - Sabil Kuttab

Description A

B - Bab Zuwayla

Description B

C - Bayn Al Qasrayn

Description C

D - Minaret, Ibn Tulun

Description D

E - A Circumcision Procession

Description E

F - Barquq Mosque

Description F

What would be really interesting would be some contemporary street scenes from Cairo showing what these locales look like today.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Tutpoxy (or, never give a repair job to an incompetent)

If  you’re not familiar with the infamous attempt at restoration of a 19th-century fresco by Spanish artist Elias Garcia Martinez, done by an elderly woman at the the church of Santuario de Misericordia in Borja, Spain, then you are either living under a rock or – perhaps – concerning yourself with more important things than obscure news.


Now comes a similar but no-less disturbing tale from Egypt, featuring the iconic mask of King Tutankhamun.


If you’re in charge of cleaning this famous relic, “What do you do if someone accidentally damages one of the world’s most famous artifacts under your charge at the Egyptian Museum? Do you a) report it to the nation’s antiquities ministry to ensure it’s properly repaired by specialists, or b) frantically call your husband so he can sloppily glue the broken piece back into place?” (from the Newser article).


Apparently the latter, based on the picture above, is exactly what happened. Newser continues:

“The AP notes it reached three of the Cairo museum’s conservators by phone, and they’re all giving different stories: They don’t seem to agree on when the Epoxy Incident happened, and one says the beard was loose and purposely removed. What they do agree on—and all sources spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal—is that someone on high ordered a quick fix, and that the adhesive used was more damaging than helpful. “Unfortunately, he used a very irreversible material,” one of the conservators said. “Epoxy has a very high property for attaching and is used on metal or stone, but … it wasn’t suitable for an outstanding object like Tutankhamun’s golden mask.”

For now, the lights at the display are being kept low. I can only hope that the internal politics can be overcome sufficiently to get the artifact properly repaired, which apparently now will be a massive undertaking. Sounds to me like some official in the chain needs to be mummified himself.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Egypt, 1976

In December of 1976 I had the chance to visit Egypt. This is a small sample of some of my favorite images from the trip.

Aswan – Aga Khan Mausoleum

Cairo – Muhammad Ali Mosque

Abu Simbel temple exterior

Abu Simbel Temple – Interior

The Step Pyramid of Saqqara

The Father of Terror

Cairo – Ramadan booth

Colossus at Memnon.  This always calls to mind the famous poem:


By Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Aswan – Christmas Day, 1976

Aswan – Overlooking the Nile


Memphis – Reclining Ramses II

This was a phenomenal trip – 2 weeks in an amazing country. Al Qahira munwwara bi Ahlaha!

All images ©1976-2012 Old Wolf Enterprises