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Craftsmen mesmerise visitors with their artisanship

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ISLAMABAD: The on-going folk festival of Pakistan, ‘Lok Mela’, organised by the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa) at Shakarparian is immensely contributing towards documenting and preserving the traditional folk crafts. The glimpse of rural folk and traditional heritage of different provinces and regions have coloured the grounds of the capital for ten consecutive days.Besides several other features for families and children, the exhibitions of the artisans are a major attraction for the visitors. Over five hundred craftsmen are seen actively demonstrating their works in artistically designed cultural pavilions, putting their creativity in arts, crafts and innovation. They are mesmerising the visitors with their unique artisanship.The crafts on display are embroidery, including Multani, Bahawalpuri, Hazara, Swati, Balochi and Sindhi, block printing, lacquer work, khussa making, pottery, tie and dye, doll making, khaddar weaving, truck art, wood carving, wood work, metal work, shawl weaving, zari work, traditional carpets, blue pottery, ajrak, wax printing, stone work, wooden spoon making and many others. Lok Virsa is cognisant of the need for gender equality which is seen in each event that it holds from time to time, because in this way, both male and female practitioners afford equal opportunity of showcasing their talent and getting due recognition.We can see a number of female artisans demonstrating their skills. The most prominent among them is Malookan Bibi from Balochistan. She practices Balochi embroidery and has devoted 32 years of her life to this profession. She stands out not only for her excellence but also in her tireless propagation of this art by imparting it to the future generations. Another craftswoman Pari Bibi from Badin weaves farasi(traditional rug). She is a 70-year-old artisan having expertise in the art of weaving since her childhood.Male artisans are also equally good in showing their art work. Shah Behram, a craftsman in taghar (traditional woollen rug) from DI Khan is showcasing excellent display.Another craftsman Ameer Bukhsh is an expert in natural dyes. The ancient art of wooden block making has its centres in the lower Indus Valley encompassing southern Punjab and all of Sindh. He has not only trained his family members but also imparted training to many artisans in other crafts related to textile. Habibur Rehman from Rawalpindi is a master artisan in the truck art. The colourful, art is not only done on the bodies of trucks but also other vehicles and means of transportation like buses, tankers, mini-buses, rickshaws, and even donkey carts moving on the road throughout the country. Deedar Ali in patti weaving (woven strip made from sheep wool) from Gilgit-Baltistan is also seen actively demonstrating his workmanship.Talking to this scribe, Lok Virsa’s Executive Director Shahera Shahid told that Pakistan with its rich and varied heritage has a craft tradition of more than 9,000 years dating back to the Mehergarh civilization in Balochistan. The dominant historical influence still to be seen in the form, design and colour of the Pakistani handicrafts is essentially Islamic, a fusion of Turkish, Arab, Persian and the indigenous Mughal traditions, she said. The 10-day ‘Lok Mela’ would continue with all its festivities at the Lok Virsa Complex, till April 20.

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