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Who is Amina Hanem Ilhamy, the Iconic Silver Bed Owner?

May 11, 2024

After a picture surfaced on social media on April 20th, depicting an empty space where the iconic silver bed once stood in the Manial Palace Museum, concerns quickly spread. Social media users began to speculate that Amina Hanem Ilhamy’s famous silver bed had gone missing.

However, the head of the Museums Sector at the Supreme Council of Antiquities addressed the rumors, clarifying that the silver bed was under restoration at the Manial Palace’s laboratory and has not disappeared as reported on social media.

The silver bed, a marvel of craftsmanship, is the sole surviving piece among the four beds gifted by Ilhamy’s father-in-law, Khedive Ismail. Beautifully engraved and adorned, the bed is displayed in the Manial Palace Museum, formerly the home and estate of Prince Mohamed Ali Tawfiq of the Mohamed Ali Royal Family between 1899 and 1929.

Ilhamy’s bed weighs more than 850 kilograms of pure silver, with an estimated cost of EGP 44 million (USD 919,582).

Who is Amina Hanem Ilhamy?

Born in 1858 in Constantinople during the Ottoman Empire. Amina Hanem Ilhamy married Muhammad Tawfiq Pasha at the age of 15. Tawfiq Pasha, the great-grandson of Muhammad Ali Pasha, would six years later become the Khedive of Egypt and Sudan. 

Together, Ilhamy and Khedive Tawfiq had five children together, and their son, Abbas Hilmi II Pasha ascended to the throne in 1892 upon his father’s death. 

The Khediva of Egypt, also known as ‘Walida Pasha’, or the mother of the Khedive, was revered for her philanthropy. She helped the sick and the poor throughout her life. She donated lots of money to charities, gaining the nickname, ‘Umm al-Muhsinin,’ meaning the Mother of Charity. 

A passionate advocate for education, she established an industrial school for decorative and Islamic arts. Later, she launched various other schools for Pharaonic and Islamic embroidery. Ilhamy also sponsored many students to study abroad and donated to Egyptian schools.

Her altruism and stature were recognized beyond Egypt; Sultan Abdul Hamid of the Ottoman Empire, reigning from 1876 to 1909, respected and admired her. Whenever she visited Istanbul, she was welcomed by a high-ranking officer.

Despite the rarity of women receiving the title, the people of Istanbul gave her the title, Pasha.

Amina Hanem Ilhamy passed away in 1931 while in Istanbul. Her son, Prince Mohammad Ali Tawfiq, brought her to Egypt for her burial ceremony, sparking a wave of mourning across Egyptians for their beloved and respected Khediva.

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