Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Egyptian currency notes - a journey through religious monuments

When I had gone to see the Sultan Qait Bay mosque, I kept thinking that I had seen it before, it seemed so familiar. But I knew for sure that I had not, because I had never managed to explore the Cities of the Dead prior to this.

And then the helpful man in the mosque solved the mystery for me! I have been seeing the mosque every single day on the LE 1 note! I pulled out the note, and sure enough there it was - the Qait Bay mosque, just like it was before me now.
This had me fishing out all the notes in the wallet and trying to identify what was on them. I recognised the Ibn Tulun mosque on the LE 5 note, the Citadel on LE 20, the Al Azhar moque on 50 piasters and the Sultan Hassan mosque on the LE100 note.

I asked my driver about the other notes, but he was not able to identify the mosques. Neither was my maid. By now I was really hooked to this quest to find out which mosques where on the LE200/ LE 50 and LE 10 notes. Googled and searched, and, finally got 'em all!
So here goes!

Le 1
The note features Mosque (actually, his funerary complex) of Sultan Qaitbay who was a Mamluk who ruled Egypt from 1468 through 1496.

Le 5
This has the really beautiful Ibn Tulun mosque with its unique square base minaret. You must visit the mosque. It is very serene, very peaceful and very beautiful.

Le 10
The Refa’ie Mosque is printed on this note. This mosque is located opposite the Madrasa of Sultan Hussain in Cairo. Work was originally begun under the supervision of architect Husayn Pasha Fahmy in 1869, but numerous problems, including the deaths of both the architect and his backers. Work was suspended until 1905 when it was finished under the direction of Max Herz Bey.

Le 20
This one can be identified by anyone living in Cairo. The leaded trio of domes of Mohammed Ali Mosque need no introduction!
Le 50
This features the Abu Hurayba Mosque, which is better known as the Al-Ishaqi Mosque, but Prince Qijmas al-Ishaqi died in Syria in 1487 and was buried there. Abu Hurayba though, was entombed here in 1852.

Le 100
Anyone who has been to the Khan often enough, should be able to recognise the Sultan Hassan Mosque.
Le 200
This has the Qani-Bay Mosque, which I know precious little about. Shall try and find out some. Have not been able to find a picture either!

50 piasters
This one should be easy to identify as well. The famous Al-Azhar Mosque.

25 piasters
The main item is said to be the Al-Sayida Aisha Mosque printed in blue. Interestingly, this is not a very well known mosque. Located in the Southern Cemetery (cities of the Dead) in a section known as the Lesser Qarafa, it was built in 1762 by 'Abd al-Rahman Katkhuda and was restored in the early 20th century .
In this quest of mine, came across an interesting article which talks about the first note of each kind issued in Egypt and their modern day version.


Cairo Typ0 said...

Very interesting! Thank you. :)

If you want a LE200 note go to a Citibank ATM - that's all they seem to give. Grrr

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manisha said...

Tell me about it!

Sylvie said...

This is interesting. I registered only the Pharonic images and did not pay attention to the other side!