KARACHI: They were all life-size dolls and mannequins but the sweet Sindhi village wedding scene that they were portraying drew you in and wanting to explore the three-day Sindh Craft Festival organised by the Sindh culture department which opened at Port Grand here on Friday.
There was the bride seated on a Hala jhoola (swing) with one of her friends waving the pretty traditional cloth hand-held fan to her. Another friend carrying henna was heading in their direction while several others were busy in dholki (playing music and singing wedding songs). On one side, you could also spot the handsome garlanded groom with his crisp black mustache.
But aside from the mannequins, there were the 80 stalls with people coming from all over the province selling and showcasing you pretty handicrafts of Sindh.
There were colourful ralli (traditional patch and applique work quilt) stalls, gajj (Sindhi embroidery with mirror work for dresses) stalls, kaashi (pottery and ceramics) stalls along with others that were selling embroidery work from Tharparkar, Balochistan, Kohistan, date palm leaf baskets, tie and dye suits, chunri suits, khaadi suits, chadors, ajrak, khes, lungi, sussi, jute work, bangles, Sindhi caps, dolls, even books, etc. And they came from all over Sindh including Thatta, Badin, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas, Ghotki, Kotri, Pannu Aqil, Sanghar, Sukkur, Umerkot, Mithi, Shahdatkot, Jacobabad, Thano Bula Khan and Naushahro Feroze.
At a stall from Khairpur you could buy the traditional decorated Sindhi hand-held fans made from date palm leaf and cloth for only Rs350 each. They also had pretty embroidered shirt pieces with mirror work for Rs1,500 to Rs2,000 along with cute little vests and waistcoats for children for Rs400 only.
There were pouches, purses and bags, ralli, cushions covers and duvet covers at another stall representing Umerkot. The most expensive ralli there cost Rs70,000 while the duvet covers were worth Rs30,000 and the cusion covers you could buy for Rs5,000 each. Hajra, the woman at the stall, told Dawn that each product was handmade hence the price. “It took me two years to make the ralli and several months to make the other items. So I’m not just charging for my effort but also my time. And I have made everything with love,” she smiled.
But it was not like everything was expensive. Zarina from Badin also had ralli that cost from Rs3,000 to Rs15,000.
At Rs1,600 the unstitched woven two-piece shirt and dupatta and the block prints with natural dies also could not be passed up. They were the biggest sellers of the festival.
Qamarunisa Jokhio from Naushero Feroz was showcasing the old and traditional art of doll-making of Sindh with jute yarn. She had made all kinds of dolls. There was the Edhi pair of Abdul Sattat Edhi and Bilquis Edhi, Mother Theresa, whirling dervish and even Michael Jackson. She was not selling most of her dolls, only some of them for Rs3,000 to Rs5,000.
Also towards one side were a line of stalls offering beautiful ceramics, mostly in hues of peacock blue and mostly from Hala. There were also beautifully decorated wooden rolling pins and charpoy legs on sale at very reasonable prices.
The President’s Pride of Performance-winning kinetic artist and sculptor Abdul Karim Solangi was there with his glass encased models that run on electricity and move and sing of which the Alan Faqir sculpture was making the most music. As always Solangi Saheb was also not there to sell his models but he deserved much praise and appreciation for his work.
The festival concludes on Sunday.
Each of the three days of the festival also offers some entertainment in the form of a musical concert every evening.
Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2022