Foot Ironer, Esna, Egypt

Foot Ironer, Esna, Egypt

Walking through the town of Esna during a night tour, I spotted this man dexterously using his left foot to move a hot iron over a bright white article of clothing. I had never observed foot ironing before but was familiar with irons similar to this one that are heated on coals or some other heating source and then applied to clothing. The smoothing of clothing has been done for over a thousand years, and blacksmiths starting forging simple flat irons in the late Middle Ages. The "press with hot metal" technique isillustrated in this photograph of a traditional ironing man called a makwagi.