Born into a family of farmers, Karima Ali (1942–2023) was one of the first Harraniyya Village children to join the newly built single-room tapestry workshop of the architect Ramses Wissa Wassef and his wife, Sophie, in Giza in 1954. With technical guidance from Fayek Nicolas, one of the first-generation weavers at the Wissa Wassef art center, and a tiny wooden vertical loom, Ali was introduced to Ramses’ ideas of tapestry weaving.

Ali had a passion for folkloric ballads, some of whose lyrics glorified brave men and their horses. She depicted them in her tapestries, including Abu Zayd al-Hilali, woven in 1961. When her marriage went through turbulent times, one way for her to express her anger and frustration was to weave The War, better known as Battle on Horseback, in 1975.

Besides horses and animals, the variations in Ali’s tapestries are wide. In her distinctive style, she...

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