Depicting heritage, history: Harappa-inspired jewellery on display

Amna Shariff’s collection has an indigenous yet contemporary feel


The exhibit features intricate craft expressed in material remains of Harappa. PHOTOS: HAFSAH SARFRAZ/EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: It is rare to see jewellery made artistically with the depiction of cultural heritage. This is precisely the reason the jewellery collection on display at Nomad is so fascinating and attracting art aficionados with an interest in culture and history.

The exhibition of jewellery titled ‘Jewels of the Indus’ by Amna Shariff featuring intricate craft, distinctive designs, mysterious script, and irrepressible joy of life depicts remains of Harappa -- one of the oldest civilisations in the world.

The stunning pieces of jewellery are not just attractive because they are inspired by heritage and history, but look unique and are made of interesting materials. They are also special because each piece has a unique name with a story to tell. For instance, ‘The Master Bead Maker, has been made from lapis lazuli, clay and silver beads.

A set of earrings called ‘The Words and the Unicorn’ consists of unicorn seal and clay beads while ‘The High Priest and the Peepal Tree’ — another set of interesting earrings – is made up of Peepal leaves and black glass beads.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Shariff, who has been doing handmade silver jewellery for the past 15 years, said the collection was inspired by the Indus Valley Civilisation and particularly the Harappa region.

“I have been working with a Harappan master craftsman Muhammad Nawaz who used to make replicas of excavation finds in that area. Ever since I started doing jewellery, the Harappan region used to inspire me. Therefore, I decided to do this collection,” she said.

The designer further said that she derives her inspiration from Sheherzade Alam. “A couple in Santa Fe also really inspired me, to come up with this collection and dig deeper in the history of our land, last year when I was exhibiting my work at the International Folk Art Market there,” she said.

Shariff said that even though her work caters to a niche but over the past few years people have really started valuing handmade accessories in the country.

She graduated with a degree in mass communication and worked as a journalist for six years. After that, she started an art gallery and then went on to learn jewellery design at Chelsea College of Arts, London. Nomad Art Gallery Director Nageen Hyat said that the gallery has a particular section for crafts including jewellery. “Over the years, I have seen Shariff’s jewellery change and grow,” she said.

The exhibition is ongoing until April 28.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2016.

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