Cultural exhibition: Connecting people through crafts

Published: December 23, 2010

Tradition toys made from clay, cane and colourful papers are displayed at a crafts exhibition at Lok Virsa on Wednesday. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID

ISLAMABAD: A country’s craft reflects its culture, but in Pakistan it has not been promoted the way it should be, said Sajida Haider, Executive Director Trust for History, Art and Architecture of Pakistan (THAAP), a Bhawalpur-based NGO.

She was here for the exhibition ‘Connecting People through Crafts’ organised at Lok Virsa by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), under its project ‘Mapping of Cultural Assets in Districts Multan and Bahawalpur: Empowering Women through Crafts’ and funded by Norway.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Haider said the exhibition is all about representing true culture and colours of Pakistan by 695 craftswomen from 20 villages.

The exhibition is based on four major themes: Jiwan-Rukh Akath (Tree of Life Collection), Tooti-Nama Akath (Tales of Parrot Collection), Neel Akath (Indigo Collection) and Rohi Akath (Cholistani Collection).

The women were trained in the craft of pit-loom weaving, embroidery, palm leaf and wheat stalk products, blue pottery, paper craft, chunri (tie and dye) work, traditional cut-kurta, Ralli and naqashi on wood and camel skin.

“After giving training to these women they are now poised to set up their own small business enterprises and earn their livelihood,” Haider said. She said that craft is changing lives around Pakistan and has become a source of livelihood for many, especially flood victims. “The remote areas of our country are flooded with highly skilled people, but their work remains unacknowledged,” she added.

She expressed concern over people who are taking advantage of such people by paying a little amount for their work but selling it with high prices in markets.

“They pay Rs18 for a
full-fledged embroidered shawl and sell it out for Rs15,000 – 20,000 in the market,”
said Haider.

She further said they pay Rs1 for making the upper portion of the ‘Khusa’ and sell it for Rs25 – 300 in the market.

Haider said the aim behind inaugurating the exhibition by the prime minister was to make the government realise the importance of our craftsmen and women and give them recognition. “It is discouraging to see that the Pakistani embassies in other countries do not portray their own culture by exhibiting traditional craft,” she said. She further said handmade craft should be presented to the international dignitaries by our government officials to promote our craft.

Talking to the Express Tribune, Mohammad Ali Wasti, from National Arts Council Multan said the country has a very rich culture and is blessed with numerous craftsmen and craftswomen, but their work is recognised only on a local level.

He said there are three craftsmen in Multan who won pride of performance on their work but they were acknowledged only locally.

They urged the government to give a prominent status to crafts business and acknowledge the work of the people who are playing an important role for its promotion.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2010.

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