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Two Egyptian Art Devotees Give the Traditional Olla a Modern Makeover

These clay water jars are sure to brighten up any space they're put in.

Sometimes, you need to look within yourself and rewire your circuits to change for the better, using meditation, planning, trial and error, and focused work, and that would take years. But other times, all you need is a new paint job using bright and happy colours only a crazed unicorn could conjure up. 

That’s what the good folks at Shababik believe and have put in practice through their impressively-decorated water pots, or ollal, as they’re called on the Egyptian streets (we’re totally from the streets, so we know). What they do is buy your average olla, paint it by hand, and sell it for anywhere between 70 to 100 Egyptian pounds, with each decorated olla taking around one and a half days to make. But this isn’t any other paint job, as the art is influenced by local and Nubian styles to create something that is strikingly beautiful.


26-year-old fine arts graduate Hadeer started the idea and it grew with the help of family and friends like Esraa Magdy. “The products are of course more expensive because the material that is used for the paint is expensive and the handiwork takes a lot of time, effort, and concentration,” Magdy tells Al Watan News. And although they didn’t in the beginning, the art started including Arabic calligraphy, which has helped the water pots appeal to even more people. 

According to Magdy, some people buy the ollal to decorate their homes while others use them to actually drink from. Besides ollal, the team decorates other products including trays and larger puts or zeers, and hopes to be able to sell its products directly from their own official store. Currently, the jars are sold either through shops they partner with or through their Facebook page.

Be sure to check out the team’s Facebook page and support their small business. 

Photos: Shababik


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