Cairo Colors


Elevator Baskets

Elevator Basket Seller on his way to older building to sell brightly-woven baskets that are used as an elevator for goods, much like a ‘dumbwaiter’; however, these baskets are hoisted out of a window or over a balcony. The lady of the house calls out for supplies, lowers her basket and the grocer puts the goods inside, the price is known and payment lowered or put on account.

The brightly woven baskets are something new to the elevator basket market, usually the baskets are simple reed baskets as seen below (elevator baskets in action are photos taken in Shubra, but this is typical all over Egypt). Whatever the choice, using them saves energy (climbing up and down a lightless stairwell), convenient, and environmentally friendly!

Mohamed Tanamly offers a vivid explanation of the word, sabat (basket):

The correct word for the process of collecting/ lifting up small items with a dropped down baskets is named after the word for basket, for the process itself. People would use the word “Sabat”. While it refers to the basket itself, but by implication, is refer to the use of the basket to describe the process. It’s something akin, in English, to the work “trucking”.

**All rights reserved by Lesley Lababidi. To copy or re-produce photography and/or writings, written permission from Lesley Lababidi is required.

All Photographs and text are under international copyright laws. No re-use without the written permission of Lesley Lababidi 2023.

8 thoughts on “Cairo Colors

  1. Amazing balance he has! The colors are so vibrant, Les, wow, what a GREAT PHOTO! This is worthy of National Geographic or any high end Travel Magazine!! LOVE IT!

  2. Dear Lesley,

    Thanks for sending these colorful pictures from Cairo.

    Happy belated Mother’s Day.

    Funny, Omar came yesterday to celebrate Mother’s Day and we were talking about the need to move to a one floor home instead of the 3 level townhouse we are in now. So, he mentioned getting on of those baskets and use them to avoid the ups and downs! We laughed about one of the uncles in Egypt using them frequently as he lived on the 4th floor. Then came your posting with the colorful basket this morning!

    Hope all is well with you and your family. In fact we were token about some of Omar’s old friends from Cairo and I asked him if he had been following Zane on FB and if they met? He said no, but would look into it. I am assuming that Zane in the U.S.? Is he in DC? Best regards.

    Mohamed Tanamly & family

    Sent from my iPad


    • Dear Mohamed,
      Coincidence is strange and wonderful! Thank you for the great memory and insight into Cairene life. Those dangling baskets always get my attention and I wonder about the contents and then you can’t help but thing about the own who is waiting on the other end.
      Thanks so much for your comment.

  3. Lesley, what wonderful pictures of terrific baskets. We look forward to learning your summer plans once you know them.


  4. Lesley, I enjoyed the pisce about elevator baskets. The photo of the gentleman with all those many baskets is really eyecatching! I can see it being a lifesize print at the far end of a photo exhibit hall (room)that one would
    see upon entering -:)
    Personally, I have
    always admired and loved the colors I see
    African women wearing.
    The sunshine yellow/
    orange is my most
    absolute favorite color!
    There is so much we can learn from other cultures and I enjoy your sharing experiences.
    Take care,

    • Thank you SO much, Sally, I always love to hear from you. I like your idea of having an exhibition with that photo the first to be seen. If I ever have an exhibition, I will follow your advice. L.

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