A visitor looks at fabrics on display at the exhibition in Islamabad. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad
A visitor looks at fabrics on display at the exhibition in Islamabad. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad

ISLAMABAD: Lovehandmade.co hosted ‘The Maker’s Muse’, a craft exhibition showcasing exquisite artisanship from Sindh.

Lovehandmade.co is a distinct social enterprise founded in 2020 as a response to economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic on female home-based workers (FHBWs).

Lovehandmade.co has worked with approximately a hundred artisans in hard-to-reach areas, nurturing their talents and capabilities, and imparting both soft and hard skills essential for personal and professional growth.

Founded by Zein Ahmed, who has been tirelessly championing the rights of home-based workers, using her platform and expertise to advocate for fair wages, safe working conditions and economic opportunities, Lovehandmade.co exhibited beautiful, handcrafted products.

It has collaborated with the Light-F project, funded by the Japan International Cooperative Agency (JICA) and the Women Development Department of the Sindh government to uplift and fortify female home-based workers in rural Sindh.

The Graduation Model by Light-F aims to facilitate the gradual transition of home-based workers to sustainable livelihoods by focusing on three key areas of intervention – life management capacity development, financial access promotion and income generation support.

Zein Ahmed said: “At Lovehandmade.co, we believe economic empowerment is just one thread in the tapestry of a woman’s potential. By providing skills, resources and a platform, we empower artisans to not just survive, but thrive.

Their journey of growth transforms not only their lives, but their families and communities, creating a ripple effect of positive change.”

On display were exquisite Ajrak products – kurtis, pouches, masks, kitchen sets, chaddars, scarves – using natural dyes and combining traditional skills and patterns with innovations in motifs and placements. The Ajrak serves as a symbol of cultural richness and Sindhi heritage.

Pit loom scarves, shawls and towels, used a technique that traces back centuries, where the loom is set in a pit on the ground, ensuring utmost precision in every weave. The products reflected a blend of age-old craftsmanship and contemporary style.

The most expansive collection was that of exquisite Ralli blankets, using various techniques such as patchwork, barcode, evil eye, Rang Diamond, J Ralli with borders, et cetera. Each stitch told vibrant tales of Sindh craftsmanship, weaving a symphony of tradition and allure.

Dulais, an age-old favourite in summer coverings, had some lovely motifs and were stuffed with 100pc pure cotton, as was the tradition. Also crafted were some Amigurumi key chains, with small, stuffed elephants.

Speaking on the occasion, British High Commissioner Jane Marriott said: “I absolutely adore the Lovehandmade range. Stylish and smart, and helping empower Pakistan’s female rural artisans. I’m also pleased that the UK could support the early phases of this start up. People from London to Islamabad have stopped me to ask where my Lovehandmade tote bag is from.”

Myriam Chaudron said: “Today we were lucky enough to visit a beautiful exhibition organised by Zein, a particularly generous and gifted woman who gives a lot of her time to empower poor Pakistani women through handicrafts.”

She said this exhibition of multicoloured Pakistani handicrafts was a testament to the beautiful traditions of Sindh and the incredible talent and resilience of the women artisans.

“The work of these women, which came into being thanks to Zein, not only preserves cultural heritage but also uplifts entire families, offering them sustainable livelihoods and brighter futures. By supporting this exhibition, we not only acquire beautiful crafts but also contribute to a positive cycle of empowerment and economic growth,” she added.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2024

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