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Creating dosti, crafting bonds



WITH LOVE FROM PAKISTAN... Artisans at the Dostkari exhibition in Dilli Haat.

SWAT CARVED over Saharanpur with Mathura engraved in between, Multan in the background with Karnataka shining at the peripheries, once again Multan attracting from top with Kashmir providing the base. Whiling in cricket bonhomie, visit Dilli Haat and you will realise the true sense of peace in the company of cushions, lamps, bed sheets and much more.

Celebrating the festival of Indo-Pakistan artisans, the place is crowded with people hopping in disbelief and shopping with trust and yes there are misers who are bargaining and window-shopping but nobody is miser when it comes to praising the effort. "Bargaining is prevalent in both the countries. If we ask for ten, women in Multan will ask to reduce by two more," smiles Amir Baksh explaining the intricacies of block printing and use of natural colours. "Both India and Pakistan have suffered because of the British policy of promoting machines and synthetic textiles and colours. Pointing towards his cotton kurta, Baksh prides, "We are trying to revive the art for the last decade. See this kurta. It protects me both from summer and winter. The life of our handmade textile is much more and natural colours give an earthy feel. We are using a lot of indigo but I am surprised to find that Indian craftsman are using synthetic colours considering here natural colours are in plenty."

Jaya Jaitley, the initiator is pleased at the response and planning to take it further. "We want to continue with this experiment with a new set of artisans. The craftsmen also wish to showcase their collaborative work in a third country to underscore the friendship between the common men. It is also good from the commercial aspect because in the West, handicrafts have become almost non-existent. So these products can fetch much higher prices in comparison to what they do in the subcontinent. Also I am working out on the sustainable commercial viability of these products in the Indian market with the corporate and Government support."

Cross-over to Rasheeda Begum also from Multan and the lady is beaming with love and affection that she is getting from young girls lining to buy her work. "Our shadow work, hole work, dandi ka kam and jal ka kaam is of higher quality and I am amazed to find the response. Particularly all my white stoles have been sold out. Hamare yahan to rang bahut bikta hai. I liked appliqué work and the handicraft of Karnataka very much," says Rasheeda showing the joint fruits of labour on a cushion.

Something similar comes from Dost Mohammed carving floral patterns on teak with Buddha smiling in the background. "I am an artist and art is beyond religion and boundaries."

The message is clear, is anybody listening?

AK

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