Meet Sindh’s incredible craftswomen, who make colourful pieces for you and your home. From traditional Sindhi quilts to exquisitely handcrafted bed sheets, this is the first time that their work has been displayed on such a scale and their happiness at the exposure knew no bounds at the opening of the Festival City on Sunday.
The Festival City at Bagh Ibn-e-Qasim features handiwork of men and women from rural Sindh. PHOTOS: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS
The women mainly hail from the villages of Khairpur, Sukkur and Jacobabad and sell their handiwork locally to earn a living. The more ambitious of these artisans hope to gain recognition not only in Sindh and Pakistan but to also gain a global audience. “I hope that my work will finally receive the recognition it deserves,” said one of the artisans, Soomri, who hails from Thul in Jacobabad. “I have been told that foreigners are also going to be attending this festival and I hope to attract their attention.” Despite having such lofty ambitions, she was still humbled by the fact that she has been given the opportunity to come to Karachi and show her handiworks. “The people of this large city can now see how exquisite and neat our work is and how dexterous our hands are.”
While another one of Soomri’s colleagues, Badshah Zadi of Khairpur, did not share her high ambitions, she was still hopeful that this exposure would at least help her fight poverty. “I am happy to be here and such events should happen more often so that women like me have the opportunity to display their work,” she beamed, before showing pride for her work. “There is a certain beauty in our handiwork that machine-crafted work cannot replicate.”
However, it was not only the women of Sindh who got to flaunt their handiworks as the men also aimed to dazzle all comers. “Our work dates back to the Indus Civilisation of Moen jo Daro,” said Abdul Majeed Bhitt Shah, standing beside his handmade Ajrak stall. “The history of our art is captured in whatever we create.”
At a stall that featured a collection of items from ‘back home’, Ghannu Mall from Tharparkar stood as the representative of the artisans of his city. “I have been driven here by hope,” Mall said. “There is already a demand of our work in the province. I hope to promote the works of my friends throughout the country and maybe one day throughout the world.”
In over 100 stalls, Sindhi artwork – from Karachi to Kashmore – has been fully represented at the Sindh festival city at Bagh Ibne Qasim. The family-only festival, which is free for all, will continue till February 15 from 4pm till midnight.
Handmade bangles, neatly threaded ajraks and shawls, and ornaments carved from wood are some of the items that stood out. PHOTOS: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS
Among the most eye-catching stalls was the one featuring items made from dates from Khairpur, including traditional Khajoor Halwa, a stall selling the famous Ratodero sweet dish called Mava and Shikarpur’s Atchaar. If the stalls fail to catch your eye, they will certainly attract you with their unique aromas – the food being as delicious as its aesthetic value.
“People in this city are burdened by a lot of problems,” said one of the women visiting the event, Shahida Baloch. “This is helping in elevating the problems of the people while promoting the culture of Sindh. Shehron main kia milta hai? [What can you find in cities?]”
The presence of Sindhi singers is also a treat for visitors. PHOTOS: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS
For those who have never been to rural Sindh, there is also a mini replica of a Sindhi village at the festival. The presence of Sindhi musicians, singing some of their best Raag, created an ambiance for the visitors. A food street, consisting of dozens of stalls, has also been set up.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd, 2014.