Egypt Indigenous Population
According to 800zipcodes, the life of the indigenous population of Egypt is today regulated, as in the past, by the increase and decrease of the waters of the Nile, although modern engineering has transformed the floods of the past into periodic inflows that allow in some places also a triple annual harvest, and although the old agriculture has already been enriched for a century, especially in the Delta, by the introduction of the cotton plant. The physical, moral and economic conditions of the fellāḥ farmer have changed little from what they were a few thousand years ago. He still lives in very compact villages, intensively cultivating the land and paying heavy taxes to the state administration and pious foundations (waqf), to which most of the arable land belongs. He irrigates his fields by drawing water from rivers, canals and wells. Wooden hoes and plows equipped with plowshares, shafts and rough threshing carts are still used as work tools. The food consists mainly of barley bread, sorghum, corn, rarely wheat, mutton, herbs, onions, melons, broad beans, sour milk and goat, sheep and buffalo cheeses. During the holidays we also eat rice, honey, grapes. The rural population lives in sun-dried mud-brick houses; towards Upper Egypt they become larger and are sometimes painted with red earth. All have an internal courtyard onto which the rooms with very small windows open. The roof, flat, it is made up of palm branches and leaves and is covered with a layer of mud mixed with straw. In the summer you sleep on it; in winter, especially in the delta region, in a small room built over the oven. Small round or conical buildings serve as granaries or dovecotes. Of the household utensils, the porous terracotta pots and the baskets still retain the ancient forms. When working, the Egyptian peasant wears nothing but a sash of cotton around his hips, otherwise his clothing consists of shorts and a blue cotton shirt in summer, brown wool in winter, a goatskin cloak or a simple blanket and a round felt hat, more rarely a fez or turban. Women, in addition to long trousers, they wear a large blue cotton shirt and on their heads a cloth that falls over their shoulders and with which they cover their faces in the presence of strangers. In the cities, men and women wear large overcoats in the shape of caftans, waistcoats and jackets; the women then wrap their hair in large handkerchiefs and pin the headscarf to a metal circle that passes over the forehead. In the lower classes, women also tend to have their arms, forehead and chest tattooed or painted.
Social life, where it has abandoned the ancient patriarchal organization, is mainly regulated by Islam. At the age of 5-6, boys are circumcised; the ceremony is accompanied by a procession in which the boy takes part on horseback, dressed in women’s clothes; sometimes the circumcision ceremony coincides with that of the betrothal, and then the fiancée takes part in the procession as well. In the event of death, the mourners who accompany the coffin are called, crying and complaining, up to the final resting place (prohibited in the cities since 1926). Feasts of all religions are allowed: this is how Christians solemnize Christmas and Easter. Cairo celebrates the first flood of the Nile in midsummer. In the mosque of Ḥusain, in Cairo, the Shiites organize processions on the 10th of the month of muḥarram accompanied, until some time ago, by flagellations. The ramaḍān (the month of abstinence and vigils) closes with the feast of Bāiram, in which, among other things, it is customary to visit the tombs; the use of staying overnight in the houses or enclosures that contain them was forbidden in Cairo by order of March 4, 1926. During the great annual markets there are competitions, games, dances. While life in the cities of the Delta is becoming more and more international, traditional customs are better preserved in Upper Egypt. Coptic monasteries and once the numerous anchorites have long been a keynote of the Wādī en-Naṭrūn valley and western oases. In the Great Oasis the ancient cave dwellings were in use until recently and the Islamic population (Senussite) still retains old Christian customs. The Barābrah or Barberini, negroids from Nubia, live in Egypt in a social condition of inferiority, as doormen and servants.