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Delicate art form floats into modern Egypt

The intricate golden and silver embroidery called tally has a long tradition in Upper Egypt, and a small community of craftspeople is working to make sure its future is just as bright.
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Tally, embroidery done with gold and silver thread on tulle and other light fabrics, is associated with belly dancers’ glittery costumes and therefore looked down on by many Egyptians. But artist Saad Zaghloul is determined to restore the prestige and preserve the heritage of this dying craft.

Zaghloul founded a training center and museum in Assiut, Egypt, called the Tally House in 1994 to both save the craft and end its bad reputation. “Tally embroidery was used for making belly dancers' costumes in the early 1930s. This is why it was shunned by Egyptian families,” he explained to Al-Monitor. In fact, he added, the delicate embroidery was once part of a bride’s trousseau.

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