This building is a zawyeh (and zawyet, when mentioned with owner’s name, plural zawaya). On
the hillside, in addition to family houses there were family-owned, single
storey buildings, often with balconies and verandahs
and with the entrance almost always on the long wall. These were ‘zawyeh’. Zawaya are not
specific to Qurna, they exist all over
A zawyeh is a large room used as a family meeting and guest house, for gatherings such as weddings and funerals, and also for religious purposes connected with Sufism such as zikr (group prayer with movement often leading to a trance-like state). Some zawaya here were still in use until the families moved recently, others, where the family moved away some time ago, were used as workshops or for storage, and some were in ruins.
Every family collects money and buys the furniture for the zawyeh – mainly dekka (long wooden sofas) with colourful cushions and covers. When there is a very big party, or a family festival or funeral, they borrow from each other. Often the family hires large colourful tent-like structures (siwaan) which are erected outside.
Zawyet el Sheikh Abd er Rahman – Nobles area
Zawyet Abd er Rahman – Dra abul Naga area
Zawyet el Khatib
Zawyet Abd er Rasul
Zawyet el Batlaneen
Zawyet bet Sayed
Zawyet al Ba’areer
Zawyet el Hashasheen
Zawyet Hussein abu Azzuz
Zawyet Ali Awad – belonged to the Katib family
Zawyet Sayed Hassan Mansour and family – lower
Zawyet Ahmed el Zani and family - upper
Zawyet bet Khalil (the one the visitor is standing in)
The extended family members that built this zawyeh were rich farmers who owned a lot of land. Omda Lazim, mentioned in 19th century travellers’ journals, was the Omda (mayor) at that time, and the builders Daramalli and Khalil were a part of the larger Lazim family. Khalil was the first owner and had many children and descendants. This zawyeh was in use until the family moved in February 2007.
Seven families had their houses at the back, up against and in the hillside. They wished to have an impressive entrance to the extended family area and so built the wide passage entrance. The big wooden door was also made at this time.
A contemporary lithograph based on a photo taken in 1855 does not show the zawyeh and bawaba.
By 1895 there are buildings on the site, but not the zawyeh and bawaba that we can see clearly on the photo of 1910.
The Daramalli and Khalil families previously lived in the old
Photo of small Old Qurna village house and Seti 1 temple by Francis Frith 1859.
Photo by Joseph Grafton Milne, 1895. Egypt Exploration Society, London.