Thursday 2 July 2020

Erk Sous Seller and Nakrazan Player (Egypt, 1980)

This one is fun… Country and year are easy (most stamps don’t have a year printed on them, so thank you Egypt!). But what’s the image?

First off, it’s lovely – really striking with a block printing effect and almost a limewashed wall background. It has a street art feel, which is perhaps appropriate for the characters who we meet. According to the internet (thank you internet!), here we have an erk sous seller (on the right) and a nakrazan player (on the left).

Erk sous (or erksous) is a liquorice based drink sold by street sellers. It is described as black, sticky, sweet and bitter. It’s served cold, from a street vendor wearing a fabulous metal contraption who provides you with a glass, watches you enjoy your drink, then takes your glass back and rinses it for the next customer. Check out the first link below for some lovely writing, including the distinctive sound an erk sous seller makes as they clank towards you.

As to the figure on the left: the nakrazan is a traditional drum, worn hanging round the neck and played with two sticks. One of the sticks typically has a curled end, hence the walking stick type effect… Traditional music often accompanied tahtib, dance based on the use of swords or sticks and it feels like this is where the image turns our percussionist into a full-on performer…

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