Artisans get ready to become frontline fighters to save dying wood art

A group of master artisans is being trained at Lok Virsa in the field of wood art, metal work, lacquer art, papier mache and truck art to keep alive traditions of the dying arts. Besides training, the artisans belonging to remote regions will also display and sell their products to earn livelihood and make products according to market needs.

The Lok Virsa (National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage) in collaboration with the SUNGI Development Foundation and the GIZ is holding a series of master artisans training workshops. Two batches of the training workshop have been held recently while the current workshop will continue until September 27.

Commenting on the workshop, Lok Virsa Executive Director Khalid Javaid said that craftsmen were engaged in woodcarving, producing furniture and wooden artifacts of unsurpassed quality all over the country as the art of carved wood was mostly used for furniture, screen, doors and windows.

Jali (screening) is done by cutting wood into floral patterns appearing almost like a sieve. Punjab is famous for the skills of carving, incising, columning and inlaying in shisham wood. Chiniot is well known for brass and bone inlay in wood. Kashmiri craftsmen excel in delicate workmanship on walnut wood. Swat is famous for lavishly ornamented carved wooden columns and pillars, doors, chests and wooden balconies of houses and mosques, he said.

Woodwork in Pakistan includes woodcarving, bone, ivory and metal inlay, lacquer, lattice, etc. The most outstanding specimens of woodcraft are the carved wooden pillars in the mosques in northern areas. The most interesting work of northern areas is delicately carved out spoons from a single piece of wood. Swati large carved boxes; the low high back chairs and chassettes are worth mentioning.

Wooden comb making is also common in various parts of the country. Jundi ka kaam (lacquer work), which forms an intrinsic part of Pakistan’s folk crafts, involves the process of applying layers of lac in different colours on wood, while the material is rotated on a simple wooden lathe machine. Patterns are etched on the surface, exposing each colour according to the requirements of traditional patterns.

The lacquer work is generally found in areas of warmer climates. The decoration is generally geometric or stylised floral, often based on a geometric grid.

Papier mache is a specialised Kashmiri craft for making a large number of items of daily use including powder and pin boxes of different sizes, toys, bangles, vases, besides decoration pieces such as wall hanging plates. Truck art is the most vibrant, sometimes dazzling, artwork on vehicles and other means of transportation, which is found in abundance in the country. Most surprisingly, the artists and artisans involved in this special art are not graduates from art schools or colleges. Yet they do their work skillfully in a unique style using their imagination and inspiration to create fantasies and dreams, the colours and embellishments of which are deeply rooted in Pakistan’s rich folklore.

Khalid Javaid said that the project was aimed at capacity building of marginalised craft persons/artisans, mainly from rural districts with poor lower income groups. They are home-based workers living in far-flung deprived areas, with no or limited linkage with big markets to sell their products and they are being exploited by the middleman for sale of their products.


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