as told by Sulaiman al-Kretli and put into English by R.G. "John" Gayer-Anderson Pasha ; illustrated by Abd al-Aziz Abdu ; with a foreword by Theo Gayer-Anderson ; and a new essay on the House of the Cretan Woman by Nicholas Warner ; Arabic calligraphy by Ahmed Sultan Gabriel
The House of the Cretan Woman, Bayt al-Kritliya, is a sixteenth-century merchant's house that stands adjacent to the ninth-century mosque of Ibn Tulun, in one of the oldest quarters of Cairo. Both the house and the mosque are the subjects of the popular myths gathered in this magical book. In the 1930s the house served as the home of Gayer-Anderson Pasha, an English doctor and art collector, who furnished it with his collections and left it to the Egyptian government in 1945, and it was Gayer-Anderson who collected and translated the stories that are the subject of this book from a descendant of a local sheikh whose tomb flanks the house. He also commissioned a local artisan to create a series of illustrations on copper plates, one to depict each of the fourteen legends, and published the stories with the drawings, along with his own introductory description of the house, in a small edition in England in 1951 that is now long out of print.
For this new edition of this classic book, the author's grandson, Theo Gayer-Anderson, an illustrator and a specialist in restoration and conservation, has enhanced and added color to the original monochrome drawings to reanimate the world of benevolent serpents, magical wells, sultans and serving girls, djinns and saints that surrounds the house and the mosque. This unique collection is a significant piece of local history that offers a fascinating sidelight on two of Cairo's best known monuments.