The Tour Egypt Christmas Store:
The Virtual Khan el-Khalili
by Jimmy Dunn
OK, call this a shameless promotion of our online store, but the fact is, Tour Egypt is a valuable free service that is largely financed by our store, so supporting it also supports our efforts to provide our readers with the best possible content about Egypt and travel to Egypt. Yet, we offer some very good pricing on a wide variety of great and unique gifts. Furthermore, if we run out of stock on a particular item, it is removed from view, so what one buys is always in stock and ready for immediate shipment. And we are very efficient. Orders received prior to 4:00 pm are almost always shipped the same day as received, so there is plenty of time left to do your shopping at the Virtual Khan el-Khalili. One other note to this is that we currently have another large order on its way from Egypt which should be here in just a few days, so look for more new items during December. To find them, just go to the category named 'New Arrivals'. And, today we will launch a Virtual Khan blog where readers can get the latest information about new products and other matters related to the Virtual Khan el-Khalili.
That said, lets look at some of the great and unique gifts that are available in the store. Of course, the Virtual Khan el-Khalili, named for the massive real world market in Cairo, isfamous for our perfume bottles. Even though these items are hand made, we buy them in large quantities and therefore we have some of the best pricing available. Egyptian perfume bottles are both unique and beautiful, and they make great gifts for a number of different purposes. Many people buy our perfume bottle groups, which are very affordable, for office Christmas parties and various other events where they need to give gifts to a number of different women (or younger ladies, for that matter). Of course, they also buy the more expensive ones for individual gifts, and we also sell combinations of perfume bottles and perfumed oils (as well as a selection of various perfumed oils) from Egypt. We are told that we sell our perfume oil in too pure a form and should really be diluting it with alcohol, but we don't) These are some of our best sellers on the Virtual Khan el-Khalili, popular throughout the year particularly when one must give to a group of people. Everyone always seems happy to receive them as gifts.
Another similar, and very popular item is our hand blown oil warmers. These are very popular, and one can also use our perfume oil in these burners. Similarly, we also offer handblown candle stick holders that are lovely, as well as a few Champagne Goblets. Finally, we have a very limited quantity of primitive glassware that is inexpensive, rare and has an ancient tradition of manufacture.
Of course, when it comes to office gifts, I suppose everyone likes coffee mugs, and for the Egyptian enthusiast at the office, we carry several styles of coffee cups with pharaonic designs. Actually, these are part of a large variety of porcelain objects with pharaonic designs. We also carry plates, serving platters and other items, all made in Egypt.
Another specialty of the Virtual Khan el-Khalili (we actually have a number of specialties for hard to find items) is hand hewn Egyptian alabaster. These beautiful vases, bowls and other objects are made in a traditional fashion that actually dates back to thePharaonic era using only hand tools. These are actually some of my favorite products. In fact, I have a vase and a bowl at home on my bed stand where I deposit change, keys and various other items. I suppose women use them in more traditional manners, but they make rare and gorgeous gifts.
We also have machined alabaster. More glossy, and produced in various colors, these alabaster items are just about as popular as the hand hewn ones, and really just about as rare. But our vases in general are very popular this time of year, and besides the alabaster vases, we also carry a number of porcelain ones, many of which are decorated with pharaonicsscenes. We also have many others arriving in the shipment we should receive next week.
Another popular item on the Virtual Khan el-Khalili is our mother-of-pearl boxes (we also have other MOP products such as game boards and Egyptian drums and picture frames). While one can fine a number of other sources for MOP boxes on the net, we take a special pride in ours. Specifically, many such boxes use considerable plastic pieces in their construction, which of course makes them less expensive, but also inferior to the ones that we sellwhich are all mother-of-pearl with fine pieces and a fine finish. This is another item I have sitting on my bed stand where I keep valuables such as my grandfather's old pocket watch, a few rings and a few other objects that have special significance to me. Unfortunately, our supply just now is very limited, as they have been gobbled up by retail stores, but we have replacements coming in this next shipment.
We also carry a number of other styles of boxes, including ones made of leather (some specifically jewelry boxes) and others made of wood.
Now one thing one might not think of for Christmas unless one has an interest in ancient Egypt is papyrus art. However, one of the products that we carry which, to the best of our knowledge, is exclusive on the Virtual Khan el-Khalili is our Christian art on papyrus paper. Many of these hand painted papyri depict actual scenes from ancient icons found inearly churches and monasteries of Egypt. They are beautifully illustrated in very traditional styles. Of course, we also carry more traditional papyrus with hand painted pharaonic scenes. Also, we might note that some of our papyrus artwork is unique in that we have only one copy of a particular piece.
Just in!. We very recently received a small order of various items that were difficult for our regular suppliers to deliver, so we made the manager in our Cairo office go out and track them down. These items include olive oil soap (and pottery soap dishes), Nubian jewelry as found on the docks for the Philae Temple, some Nubian masks and a few other items. All, unfortunately, are in limited supply. We had been looking for the olive oil soap for some time. It is getting very popular in Egypt, but a supply seemed hard to secure. One should note that Egyptian olive oil is considered by many to be some of thebest in the world. The Nubian jewelry is also very nice, and not really very expensive. It is made from various stones, wood and bone and many pieces are very unique. We have a little better supply of it, though not that much of it is unique items.
Then, of course, we also have our many pharaonic inspired products, including a number of different museum replicas. For example, one of the most popular replicas is our Rosetta Stones, but we have many other replicas. Some of my personal favorites are the reliefs. Made of polyester, these duplicate very accurately some of the most lovely scenes recorded in tombs and look very good. I prefer these to those made out of heavier material, because of their accurate reproduction and their affordability (stone reproductions are usually less accurate, and expensive to ship from Egypt). Obviously we have a number of other ancient replicas including a number of statues, made of various materials including stone, and other objects.
Ok, then there is the pharaonic inspired objects. We have a host of such items with a wide range of pricing. I often wonder what makes one of these productsmore popular than another, but for example, the leather telephone indexes with pharaonic designs is very popular among our buyers. In fact, we have a number of genuine leather products, including wallets, picture frames and other items with pharoanic designs. Other items include brass plates with pharaonic and other designs.
On the low end, our papyrus bookmarks (which we are completely out of, but will have next week) are very popular and make good stocking stuffers, along with our small blue scarabs which many people seem tolike as lucky charms (just as they were in ancient Egypt).number of unique, one of a kind items. When we first started, we hated trying to carry items single items, but we've made buy outs and other deals where we have accumulated a number of unique products of which we only have one in stock. Next year, we will probably even be carrying more of these items as we plan on working more with some local Egyptian artisan groups, but for now, more than a few of the products one finds on the Virtual Khan el-Khalili are one of a kind.
Finally, lets talk some great value. We have always insisted upon a high level of quality in the products we receive from Egypt. An example is our pure mother-of-pearl products. Most MOP products one buys in Egypt (and for that matter, elsewhere) have somewhere between 30% and 100% plastic pieces rather than mother-of-pearl. That's really pretty typical, but we have always insisted on pure MOP. Unfortunately, that has also made a few products seem pretty expensive. An example is our MOP game boards, which have now been in stock for some time. However, while nevertheless expensive, we have marked them down to just about our cost, so they are a great value (you can't get this quality at the same price even if you buy it in Egypt, because these are at our wholesale price).
Want a big, big Crystal fish? We've got one. We still have a large supply of fine Asfour Crystal, and much of it is priced relatively low due to its cost. In fact, some of the moreexpensive pieces, which we have now had for some time, such as the big fish, are priced just about at our cost.
This is by no means a complete inventory of our products. We have table cloths, various art prints Including hard to find Lehnert and Landrock Photos and Gaddis Photos), walking sticks, and many other items that make great and unique Christmas gifts. We even have reproductions of Roman Period Funerary Portraits on wood. Make your friends and family happy with a gift from Egypt, and help support Tour Egypt at the same time.