Dust Of Faraway Lands

From far desert to near desert? . . .

September 22, 2004

Egyptian vase with Egyptian dust

When I opened the large package that came all the way from Cairo, Egypt, I was amused to find Egyptian dust on the shapely brass vase. I fingered it, thinking of the desert lands there, and how our word for 'desert' must surely have derived from theirs, dshrt, or 'red land'.

Hieroglyph for 'desert'

The dust on the vase does not look of a reddish hue, though many desert lands have that hue, in particular New Mexico. I think also of the red rock of Sedona, Arizona. But this is Cairo dust, and although Cairo is quite close to the Nile river, its eastern edge borders the desert.

I put my finger to the dust thinking, "I am not able to go to Egypt, yet tiny particles of its land have come to me."

Later last night, while perusing articles archived from Ancient Egypt Magazine, I came across a story on Egypt's Gold Country and the modern day jewelers who work with gold. "The two methods the ancient Egyptians used to bond gold together were welding and soldering." The modern craftsmen also use these techniques, for as I examine my silver and gold scarabs, I see they are each made of two layers of metal welded together.

Cairo has "one of the world’s most active precious metal markets." As I read of the hundreds of workshops "tucked away in Old Cairo’s winding, dusty alleys," I smiled as I remembered the dust on my vase.

© Joan Ann Lansberry
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