Dolls, Toys and More launched

Dolls, Toys and More by S A J Shirazi was launched in Lahore on April 28, 2012. here is a foreword by Khalid Javaid, the Executive Director, Lok Virsa

Pakistan’s folk culture is a living tradition practiced by a dominant majority of its people. Pakistanis, therefore do not have to go looking for folklore, it is all over. In fact, it is so common place that an average rural Pakistani may have no awareness whatsoever of his folkloric culture and the richness of his folk heritage, just like a fish in water.

Pakistan with its rich and varied heritage has a craft tradition of more than 9,000 years dating back to the Mehergarh civilization in the Balochistan province which reveals the earliest evidence for pottery production. The Indus valley civilizations of Moenjodaro in Sindh and Harappa in Punjab, 5,000 B.C. indicates impressions of woven cloth production from cotton and wool. The dominant historical influence still to be seen in the form, design and colour of Pakistani handicrafts is essentially Islamic, a fusion of Turkish, Arab, Persian and the indigenous Mughal tradition.

The crafts represent a valuable material heritage, which forms a tangible part of our historical and contemporary culture. Unlike the west, most traditional crafts in Pakistan is neither a profession nor a hobby, but an essential component of the diverse cultural patterns – a product of the ethnic and communal attitudes and practices. As such crafts have meanings and definite social context in traditional society. However, the onslaught of the industrial age is erasing this craft heritage, even in rural areas. But there is a recent trend towards the use of crafts as art objects in urban homes. Historic forms and designs are being revived both by the increasing number of trained craftsmen and by designers for the tourist and export trade.

Pakistan is noted for some of the most beautiful handicrafts of the world. Whether it is the elaborate dress of a bride or a simple household utensil, it is designed and created so artistically that it becomes an object of art. The different regions, towns and cities specialize in their particular handicrafts. This is why there is so much diversity and variety in the crafts of the country.

The indigenous skills of Pakistan have evolved over centuries through communal practice and therefore constitute the most authentic representation of Pakistan’s traditional art

The National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage, popularly known as Lok Virsa, is a pioneering national organization at the federal level striving hard since its inception in the This task is being done in a professional and systematic manner in close association with a vast network of provincial and regional cultural institutions, non-governmental organizations and community-based bodies, who are actively engaged with the practitioners of the traditional culture at the grass root level.

Lok Virsa has been working closely with Thatta Kedona for the last many years. They have undertaken a number of initiatives in the village Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka in Punjab for the promotion and preservation of traditional culture including activating the village women and resumption of the tradition of making dolls and ethnological research resulted in creating ethnic dolls dressed up in the traditional costumes of various provinces and minorities. In pursuance of their objectives, they give training to village women to make international quality products, to generate income and thus becoming an effective part of the society. They also collaborate with the Export Promotion Bureau of Pakistan to introduce their products abroad.

Their present publication of Thatta Kedona will also go a long way in maintaining the traditional culture and creating on its basis a foundation for good quality artisanship. We wish them success in their endeavours [Also here and here].

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