-Dawn photos
-Dawn photos

MULTAN: Ustad Muhammad Wajid is the only one among the seven sons of Ustad Allah Diwaya, who is still associated with the family art of Kashigari which is the local name of blue pottery.

“Although all of my brothers learnt the art from my father who won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1984, they have switched over to other occupations,” he said.

He said his family has been associated with the art for more than 300 years.

“The art has been transferred from one generation to another, but I’m not sure if my children will keep the tradition alive,” he says.

Wajid has two sons and both after school, come to the workshop to learn the art.

Born in 1964, Ustad Wajid has a workshop in Jan Muhammad Colony on Masoom Shah Road. He is living with his family in the upper portion of the workshop. Two families of Multan associated with the art of blue pottery were Soomro and Thaheem (Ansari).

“There were many passionate artisans in both families. Ustad Nawaz, Ustad Moeen Ahmad, Khadim Hussain, Allauddin, Ahmad Ali and Ustad Munawwar were prominent artists from the Soomro family. None of the members of the Soomro family has been associated with this art for the last 10 years. Hardly two dozen people from the Thaheem family from which I also belong to are currently associated with the art,” he said.

He said that for centuries his family worked on various shrines, tombs, mosques and private buildings.

“Our family used to do all kinds of work, including the construction of the building, Kashigari (tiles), Naqashi and Gulkari. The prominent artists of blue pottery from our family were Ustad Hassan Bakhsh, Ustad Ali Ahmad, Ustad Khuda Bakhsh and Ustad Muhammad Ramzan,” he said.

The blue pottery is made of red clay; nowadays the use of China clay (white clay) is trending because of its less price and low weight.

-Dawn photos
-Dawn photos

“The products made of China clay cannot be used in the rehabilitation of historical monuments. The preparation of products with red clay needs more care,” he said.

He said that as he is the only artist, having the only workshop of red clay, and blue pottery, whenever his family members get an order, they contact him and whenever he gets an order he also contacts his family members for timely completion of the order.

“Usually, the contractors for rehabilitation and restoration of historical monuments contact me and to do the work within the required time, I need a workforce for which I call my other family members,” he said.

He said when Makhdoom Sajjad Hussain Qureshi was the governor, he contacted blue pottery artists of the city and established a blue pottery institute. Later, the institution was hijacked by the profiteers, he alleged.

“Now white clay is being used in the institution which has been converted into a business centre or a commercial entity. Diplomas are being offered without hiring any original artist and students who are completing the diploma are not even competent to make a tile which can be used in any monument,” he said.

He said that once his uncle Ustad Khuda Bakhsh used to work at the institute as an instructor.

“After his retirement, no artist was hired in the institute,” he said.

He demanded that art be preserved by appointing original artists, or this art will die.

He offers his services if the government provides the land and infrastructure for the purpose. Four kanals are sufficient to train 25 students and this is not a huge amount to save the fun.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2021

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