Peshawar - Using wheat straw and bark, black cloth and thin plywood pieces, an artist in Peshawar creates paintings and keeps on commuting between his home and Saddar Bazaar daily for its sale to eke out a living.

Syed Abid Shah, hailing of Bahadur Kalay area of Peshawar, said that the art is almost two centuries old and that he learnt it from his uncle in Karachi in 1972 when he was a young age man.

“I learnt it as my hobby but later it became my job and I have been earning my livelihood from it for the last 50 years ever since,” he said.

Every season, he especially hands over the seed of wheat to a farmer and when he grows it, he gets 10 to 12 bundles of it, which is enough for one year of his painting. The plywood used in his painting comes from Karachi and some areas of Punjab.

Abid covers the plywood with a black cloth and then uses the bark and straw of wheat to paint portraits on it. “This art doesn’t cost much but it consumes much time,” he said.

“I want this art to survive in this (digital) age. But it’s very difficult for me to promote it as I don’t have resources for it,” he added.

Syed Abid Shah says centuries old art likely to die soon, asks govt to promote it by opening institute for training

He said the art can be promoted if the government authorities open an institute where he would like to teach and train people on it.

Abid Shah remains busy working on his art pieces in the day and later rushes the completed pieces to Peshawar Saddar while riding a motorcycle in the evening where he displays it for sale outside a shop.

Sometimes the artist gets discouraged when he does not earn a single penny for a few days.

“At times, I have got so much upset that I thought of tearing all these art pieces apart as I could not earn a single penny out of them for a few days. However, other times I get customers who buy these art pieces, which earn me a reasonable amount,” he added.

The artist has also painted a portrait of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman on the request of a Saudi journalist. “I would like to present it to the Saudi prince if I am invited to Saudi Arabia where I may also perform Umrah,” he said.