SILLANWALI: The people of Sillanwali, located 30 kilometres from Sargodha, are so skilled at crafting wood that their handicrafts are exemplified worldwide.
In this town with a population of about 200,000, there are about 100 big and small units where handicrafts are manufactured. Out of these, 25 are large units. The handicrafts manufactured here are shipped not only within the country but also abroad.
The handicrafts made at Sillanwali are well known worldwide for their design, color combinations, painting and fine work.
Not only decoration pieces are manufactured in Sillanwali but also watches, gift packs, bed posts, side and table lamps, jewelry boxes, fancy tables and chairs and various items of daily use.
The businesses of more than 10,000 people in Sillanwali are associated with this occupation. The most important thing about the crafts of this tehsil is that the various wooden items here are handmade, which enhances their beauty.
Locally, it is said that the craftsmen involved in the work have golden hands. Malik Mohammad Ilyas, chairman of the Crafts Committee at the Sargodha Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told The Express Tribune that handicrafts in Sillanwali have been prepared since Pakistan’s independence.
At the time of the partition of the sub-continent, people from Karnal and adjoining areas mostly settled at this place.
These people were involved in the business of various wood products in India. After being settled here, these people are still associated with the same business and today the industry has grown so much that wooden handicrafts that are manufactured in Sillanwali are not matched worldwide.
Ilyas added that handicrafts manufactured in Sillanwali are exported to Malaysia, China, Indonesia, UAE, different countries of Europe and the United States.
He maintained that locally exported handicrafts from Sillanwali are very rare. Traders from big cities buy goods from here and then earn more by exporting them. He demanded that the government provide facilities to increase exports directly. Handicrafts manufactured in Sillanwali are well known worldwide but craftsmen who make these handicrafts are not paid adequately.
Mohammad Usman, who works in the industry, said that producing handicrafts take a lot of hard work, but its reward is almost zero.
Also, the workers in the industry are facing problems due to utility bills and inflation. The government should take special measures to provide relief to the working class.
Ilyas remarked that tax relief is needed to promote the handicrafts industry of Sillanwali, which requires action at the government level.
He added that innovative machinery, as well as new designs, need to be introduced in the sector.
For this purpose, local artisans need to get benefit from modern technology for computerised designing. There are dozens of handicraft shops in Sillanwali where hundreds of customers come daily. However, due to the current inflation and domestic conditions, shopkeepers, artisans, and owners of handicrafts units are all worried.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2020.