السبت، 8 أكتوبر، 2011

The Saqqa, or Person who Delivered Water

The Saqqa was a person responsible for bringing good drinking water from the Nile or underground cisterns to those who needed it.

Some brought water to Egyptian households, others brought water to mosques, schools, and khanqas, which are monasteries or convents. Some brought water to fill the cisterns of the sabils, which were public fountains, such as the sabil associated with Al-Mansur Qala'un complex, located in Nahaseen, or brassmakers' quarter.

The Saqqa had one of the more important and popular jobs in Islamic Egypt because it was vital to Egyptian society since water channels did not enter Egyptian households.

The Saqqa had to have a healthy body with no backaches or stomach diseases, in addition to appearing presentable, since he could possibly transmit diseases when carrying water.

He also needed to have good character and piety, as he was the only person allowed to enter a house when the owner of the house could be absent.

The Saqqa carried a specific water bag that had to be made from a certain type of animal leather, known to be clean and with no odor so as not to affect the water.


The muhtasib, the person responsible for supervising the markets and general behavior in the streets, had the right to supervise the Saqqayeen and inspect their cleanliness. He only allowed them to collect water from certain areas along the River Nile that were far away from where waste had accumulated.

It was necessary to collect water from the middle of the Nile or from the "Sea of the Nile" as mentioned by historians.

Many people worked as a Saqqa and lived in a certain area including an alley that bears their name, the alley of the Saqqayeen .

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