ISLAMABAD – The ongoing master artisans training workshops-cum-display of handicrafts here at Lok Virsa is serving the craft lovers as an attraction that provide them with an ideal opportunity to experience the cultural diversity of the country.
Artisans participating in the workshop-cum-display have exclusive to offer to the visitors and every stall serves as a window to the cultural diversity that exists within each area, said the organisers.
A detailed look at artisans from Punjab practicing ancient art of block printing and tie-dye introduces the visitors with the wide range of colourful and dazzling artefacts.
Punjab is famous for a wide range of crafts which include bone work, lacquer art (Jundri Ka Kaam), Multani blue tiles, tie and dye, bock printing, wood carving, darree weaving, khaddar weaving, basketry, pottery, embroidery, zardozi, metal work, camel bone carving, okair sazi, shoe (khussa), needle work, etc.
Surraya from Kahror Pacca makes traditional chunri (tie and dye work) with its tiny details and dark colours like maroon, green, yellow and red. Among male artisans, Ameer Bukhsh is outstanding. He is an expert in natural dyes/block printing from Kahror Pacca.
Lok Virsa’s Executive Director, Khalid Javaid, who is also a renowned craft expert, said, “The subcontinent’s ancient techniques of applying designs on textiles with pigments and dyes, such as the oldest painted items, are admired as one of the greatest achievements in the textile arts. Pakistan’s block prints can theoretically be included among the ancient crafts of the subcontinent.”
It is most likely that block printing also evolved here at an early date because the most ancient techniques are still practiced in Sindh where the cotton textile industry and the art of dyeing were highly developed at the time of the Indus valley civilization.
Terra-cotta stamps probably used for printing textiles in the 1st century AD were excavated in Taxila. Lahore’s calicoes were widely exported during the Moghul period. In southern part of the Punjab, block prints are noted as one of the best prints produced in the subcontinent. Punjab appears as vestiges of a craft that was so widespread that most villages had their own block printers to provide the printed fabrics required by the local people.”
Khalid Javaid said, “Lahore remains one of the largest commercial centres for block printing. Heavy fabrics, printed for drapery are marketed throughout the country and are also exported.
The most artistic block printers in Lahore depict animals, birds and floral patterns in arched frames, as well as use traditional colour combinations characteristic of the decorative style of Moghul tiles and paintings.
Sometimes colours are also applied with a brush on finest block prints. The traditional methods of block printing are least affected by modern technology.
It is the only contemporary textile medium, which still relies somewhat on natural dyes but the craftsmen are very secretive about their formulae. However some of the dyestuffs are known to be indigo for blue, madder for red, turmeric for yellow, pomegranate rind for green, iron shavings for black, etc. are used. Jacobabad, Tharparkar in Sindh and Cholistan and Multan in Punjab are marked as centres of this craft.