Akhmim Embroidery (Egypt)

An example of an early 21st century Akhmim embroidery. An example of an early 21st century Akhmim embroidery.

Akhmim embroidery is a form of modern ‘naive’ embroidery associated with the city of Akhmim in Upper Egypt. Textiles, especially woven forms, have been produced at the city for thousands of years. This relationship has been used by various Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) to build up local weaving projects, especially for women, developing new weave and embroidery styles and bringing Muslim and Christian communities together.

In the 1940's, the Upper Egypt Association’s Center for Schools and Social Development (est. 1940) launched a project in Akhmim that was intended to teach Christian and Muslim girls the basics of European style embroidery. Soon a demand rose for embroidery using the Coptic designs associated with the ancient woven textiles from the region. A form of ‘overlapping backstitch’ (stem stitch) was developed and combined with local scenes to a special style of embroidery.

The Upper Egypt Association Center, using the same stitches, subsequently developed yet another new Akhmim style, based on Wissa Wassef concepts, namely working designs derived from daily life. Since the establishment of the Akhmim project in the 1940's, there have been various exhibitions throughout Europe, America and the Arab world displaying Akhmim's creative abilities. By the end of the twentieth century, this form had become an established element within the Egyptian embroidery repertoire.


  • AMMOUN, Denise (1991). Crafts of Egypt, Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, p. 48.
  • MENHEZ, Shahira and Gillian VOGELSANG-EASTWOOD (2016), 'Egyptian Embroidery,' in: Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood (ed.), Encyclopedia of Embroidery from the Arab World, London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 264-293, esp.p. 271.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 16th May 2017).


Last modified on Tuesday, 16 May 2017 19:15