Wood you believe it?

Published August 31, 2014
Artisans at work
Artisans at work

If there was a choice one would most definitely choose intricately carved furniture over the traditional plain-looking one — providing that one’s pocket can afford it. Naturally, it is more expensive than regular furniture due to the hard work involved in the carving but despite the premium, more and more people are buying carved, antique-looking furniture for their homes.

The artisans of Chiniot, an ancient city of the subcontinent, are known for their expertise in making carved furniture. The wooden furniture is decorated with carving, embossing, wooden inlay and painting, etc. Not only carving, embossing and wooden inlay, but brass is also used to decorate and design the furniture. Another technique, known as “geometrical patterns”, is also used, where different designs are prepared by joining small pieces of wood together.

People from all over the country used to visit Chiniot to purchase carved furniture. Due to it’s comparatively higher price, it used to be considered a status symbol as only the wealthy families could afford to buy it. With the passage of time shops and showrooms were established in other cities such as Rawalpindi, Lahore, etc. to facilitate people at their doorstep and reducing the need to travel to Chiniot.

The availability of Chinioti furniture in major cities has led to new trends in the local business sector along with providing job opportunities

A few years back a number of show rooms were set up in Attock as well where Chinioti furniture is available. Though initially their business was a bit slow, it gained popularity and now more and more people are buying it not only to replace their old furniture but also to give to their daughter in dowry.

A local resident, Haji Fawad Khan, said that though he was very fond of carved furniture, he could not buy it earlier because it was not available in Attock and if he bought it from some other city he would have to pay heavy transportation charges, besides risking damage. But now since it has become available in Attock he has replaced all his old furniture.

Designs to choose from
Designs to choose from

“We could not even think about buying carved furniture as it is not easy to travel to Chiniot or some other big city,” a housewife said who has recently bought it for her daughter’s dowry from a local showroom in Attock.

A sales manager of a showroom at Kamra Road said that they are doing roaring business as people are showing great interest in carved furniture. “We take about 40-50 days to deliver any order to our customers, as we have a lot of work” he said. People not only buy to furnish their homes or to give in dowry but also give as gift and even send abroad to their friends and relatives as sign of friendship as these things are very expensive abroad.

The availability of Chinioti furniture has not only led to new trends in the local business sector, but is also providing job opportunities to skilled and non-skilled workers involved in various processes of preparation of carved furniture and other handicrafts.

A cushion-maker, Shamim alias Baiya, said that he used to work in Lahore but when job opportunities were created he returned to his native Attock. He is happy to have the opportunity to work near his home because while in Lahore he visited his family only once a month or so.

Intricately carved furniture at a showroom
Intricately carved furniture at a showroom

Similarly, Azhar Khan, an antique furniture polish worker, said that he and his two brothers used to work at a furniture workshop near Golremore, Rawalpindi. Now since the last year they are working in Attock which is more beneficial for them as they save them travelling expenses.

Besides provision of jobs, the business of related industries such as wood, fabric, foam, glass, mirror, paint, thinner, etc. have also increased.

Chairs, tables and sofas are the most commonly bought items but diwans, consoles and partitions are also available in attractive designs and various finishes and polishes, such as matt finish, walnut, teak with unique touch of copper, silver and golden.

Khan also said that initially many shop owners used to bring the furniture in “raw shape” (without finish) from Chiniot and then polish and finish at the local level as the artisans of Chiniot have good taste and have achieved excellence in their work. However, now some of them have started to manufacture it at the local level as skilled labour, that too those specialising in wood carving, are available locally.

With the increase in the popularity of carved furniture in Attock it is expected that more more showrooms and outlets will open soon to facilitate the consumers.  

Yaqoob Malik (dawnattock@hotmail.com)

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, August 31, 2014



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