Palestine Post 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
This morning (Saturday) at precisely eleven o’clock, the Fifteenth Agricultural
and Industrial Exposition was inaugurated in Cairo by Prince Mohamed Aly Hassan,
representing the King of Egypt.
The posters proclaiming “Sunny Egypt” are
prone to exaggerate a bit. At least, during this week we have been comfortable
in heavy coats. But the sun co-operated this morning and the balmy atmosphere
added much to the gay scene at the Fair grounds. Half an hour before the
appointed time, Egypt’s great and near-great began to filter in and to take
their places in front of one of the principal buildings, the cotton exhibition.
Leading from a drive to a throne-like chair was a red carpet. The Prince arrived
– the national anthem was played by a band from a nearby pavilion – a few
speeches followed – guns boomed – and the Exposition was declared
In view of the fact that agricultural exhibits will be stressed in
our own Levant Fair, it was particularly interesting to see how Egypt displays
her wares. The keynote of the Exhibition is cotton, all other exhibitions being
of very minor importance. To inspect the cotton pavilion alone would require
half a day – after which one would have a wide knowledge of the subject, for the
charts, machinery, raw and finished products, represent not only Egypt’s, but
the world’s cotton industry. Cotton from South Carolina is side by side with the
Nile River product.
One wanders through rooms, down corridors, into
alcoves, all of which are dedicated to cotton. There is a section devoted to the
biology and physiology of the cotton plant, the botanical section, the insect
pests section and countless other sections. Cotton in various stages is
displayed under glass and enclosed in glass. There are maps, charts, statistics
and proclamations declaring that cotton is as important to the balance of world
finance as gold.
More to the popular taste, perhaps, are the
rooms in which the story of Egypt’s own cotton growing is told by means of
fascinating miniature rural scenes as well as excellent life-size wax figures.
Towards the end, the wax figures become a bit confusing, and we were just about
to examine what appeared to be a wax ear, when the man moved. In one large room
an entire cotton field, including the tent of the foreman and fourteen wax
cotton pickers, is reproduced. In another, agricultural implements made to scale
are shown beneath miniature scenes depicting the farmers at work with the
particular implement. In the centre of this room, a group of life-size figures
are baling the cotton.
The rest of the vast display includes an array of
ancient Egyptian looms; old Coptic and Syrian pieces from the 12th and 15th
centuries; and, of course, a wide variety of modern fabrics.
In the other
buildings, one sees displays, many of them more elaborate, of citrus fruits,
dates, barley and other products of the soil.
Inevitably, the Palestinian
will leave the Exhibition making comparisons between what he has seen here and
what, according to present plans, he may see at the Agricultural section of the
Our little show will, doubtless, be like a country fair in
comparison to this elaborate, finished, luxurious achievement of Cairo. And yet
it will be more representative of the soil and those who till the soil. For it
will be the farmers who arrange it and they who will be among the enthusiastic
spectators. The Cairo Exhibition is of higher academic interest and one feels
that the spectators will not get any closer to their agricultural products than
the polished glass cases permit.