In a rudimentary workshop in Cairo, Haj Mohamed Hussein uses a simple method to produce candles for different occasions. It earns him a humble living – but he worries the profession may be dying out.
Now 60, Hussein is one of the last of a handful of candle makers in the al-Ghourya district, which was once bustling with workshops before cheap imports largely wiped them out.
“I inherited the profession from my father, and I have not mastered another,” Hussein said, “so I hold onto it firmly despite the low income and a shortage of labour who want to learn or work in it.”
Egyptians use candles on many occasions, from weddings to church prayers for the Christian minority.
Workers straighten the candle wicks and immerse them in molten wax several times to ensure uniform distribution around each wick and the desired thickness. They use simple, manual methods and moulds, with almost no machinery involved.