The Lotfy Process
The Lotfy Process is our signature method of creating incredible Mother of Pearl designs on our Darbukas. Invented in 1978 by Abdel-Nasser Lotfy.
Invented in 1978
An idea is born
In 1978, with almost 40 years of experience manufacturing cast aluminium Darbukas, Abdel-Nasser Lotfy started experimenting with using Mother of Pearl overlay to create an incredible coloured design over the Darbuka.
Struggles Upon Struggles
The process was difficult. Incredibly so. While the Mother of Pearl had been used before to apply overlays to other musical instruments, it was especially difficult to create these designs on a Darbuka.
Approximately 2kg of Mother of Pearl was needed per drum, and each piece needed to be cut exactly to size by hand. Colours then had to be matched, the thickness of the Mother of Pearl taken into account and many other factors had to be considered to turn the raw Mother of Pearl into a stunning Darbuka design.
The Finished Product
After 3 years of experiments, the Mother of Pearl Darbuka was born. The first of its kind, and a product that would change the Darbuka world forever.
Two Decades of Custom Builds
For 20 years following the invention of the Mother of Pearl Darbuka, people came from around the world to commission one from Gawharet El Fan, and so began a complete transformation of the Darbuka world.
After 23 years of refinements to the Lotfy Process, in 2001, the Mother of Pearl mass manufacturing process started, firstly with standardisation of the Mother of Pearl designs and then with contracts from distributors from around the world.
The Mother of Pearl Darbuka gained presence in over 20 countries and countless craftsmen came to Cairo to learn the Lotfy process directly from Abdel-Nasser Lotfy himself.
The Export Grade
In 2020 the Export Grade products were launched, creating the mastercraftsmen gateway in the Lotfy process, the final test of ultimate crafting ability.
A Bright Future
The Lotfy Process continues to improve and expand, under the direction of the Lotfy family. Abdel-Nasser Lotfy's son, Youssef Lotfy is now working tirelessly to improve the Lotfy Process.
The Training Process
Qualification in the Lotfy Process requires each craftsman to undergo a challenging training process. This craft is certainly not for everyone, and as such the craft is best passed down from parent to child over many generations. We have as many as four generations of craftsmen from the same family in our workshops. Read through the strict training process that each crafsman is required to undergo.
To begin the process of qualifying in the Lotfy Process, the apprentice is assigned to a current craftsman(usually their father) who will train the apprentice in the basics of Egyptian Mother of Pearl handcraft.
The apprentice will learn how to work with Mother of Pearl and other design materials, and will gain firsthand experience in how our instruments are made. At this stage the apprentice is not usually permitted to craft a Darbuka from start to finish by themselves.
The apprentice will graduate Basic Training when they are deemed good enough to craft a local grade Darbuka from start to finish.
After the apprentice graduates Basic Training, they begin their first stage of independant training by crafting instruments at the Local Grade, i.e. instruments sold locally in Egypt. These instruments are usually of a lower quality and include very basic designs.
During this period, the trainee craftsman is permitted to craft instruments from start to finish and gains a broad, well-rounded experience in crafting Mother of Pearl instruments.
The Crafstman Gateway is the first official examination for our renowned standard qualification in the Lotfy Process. The trainee craftsman is challenged to produce their own innovative and exciting design with a Mother of Pearl engraving. The craftsman is permitted to present as many Mother of Pearl designs as they would like, and they are each reviewed by Abdel-Nasser Lotfy himself.
Abdel-Nasser Lotfy then selects the trainee craftsmen of the designs he deems worthy to graduate in the Lotfy Process and become qualified craftsmen.
The craftsman, now qualified in the Lotfy Process, begins working directly with Standard Grade instruments which are the instruments we sell internationally throughout the world.
These craftsmen typically have almost a decade of experience under their belt, and are fully competent in the craft. These craftsmen would typically be training apprentices simultaenously, as well as always innovating and devising new designs.
The Mastercraftsman Gateway is the ultimate test of a craftsman's ability, and permits the craftsman to work on Export Grade instruments. Any craftsman that has significant experience working with Standard Grade, typically at least 5 years, is examined every 6 months by Abdel-Nasser Lotfy to determine whether they are permitted to complete the Mastercraftsman Gateway and rise to the next level.
Not all craftsmen will acheive this incredible feat; it takes a person with an expert eye, a steady hand, and an innovative style of manufacturing to pass the Mastercraftsman Gateway. Once Abdel-Nasser Lotfy deems a person worthy of this level, they are raised to the rank of mastercraftsman.
The mastercraftsman is now fully qualified in the Lotfy Process, and has reached the highest possible level. At this stage, the mastercraftsman now works on only the Export Grade products, producing the highest quality instruments that can be found anywhere in the world.
Our mastercraftsmen are always working on creative and innovative designs, and this elite group of craftsmen work closely with Abdel-Nasser Lotfy to continuously produce new, fantastic designs that never cease to amaze the world with their beauty.
We are incredibly proud of all of our craftsmen and mastercraftsmen, and we know that these people are responsible for so many of the incredible instruments that can be found throughout the world today. We support our people in any way that we can, and provide a holistic and happy environment for them to grow as people, so that they can truly shine in their craft.