Pakistan the land of opportunities is a country of colors, variety of seasons, rich cultures, creative minds and fertile crafters. The masterpieces created through the skilled hands of artisans are obvious as Baluchi Khadi, Sindhi Ajrak, Chinioti Furniture, Khaddar of Kamalia, Truck Art, Shawls from Swat, Blue Pottery from Multan, Ceramics from Gujrat and Salt Lamps from Khewra etc.
However due to terrorism and other factors; the foreigner tourism has reduced considerably in the last 10 years or so; the unfortunate implications are not only hitting adversely the tourism industry but the allied industries like art and handicraft has also been brutally hit. There are numerous crafts that are threatened by extinction if they are not revived. Similarly, there is a mass of population that is threatened by poverty if it is not helped to sustain itself.
Pakistan’s traditional articraft has so much to cherish about like the masterpieces created through the skilled hands of artisans as Baluchi Khadi, Sindhi Ajrak, Chinioti Furniture, Khaddar of Kamalia, Shawls from Swat, Blue Pottery from Multan, Ceramics from Gujrat, Salt Lamps from Khewra and Phulkari from Haripur are few to name.
Our homeland artisans lack exposure and linkages with the national and International markets since majority of them even don’t have basic education and also because there is no such support available which may help them get insights about the market potential and trends. Often due to lack of market insights the artisans get exploited in the hands of middlemen and their products are sold in local markets on a very cheap price and do not reach in to the wider markets.
Haripur is both a city and a district in the Hazara region of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province of Pakistan. To the north and west of Haripur were first effected by terrorism and then by 2008 earthquake that caused massive destruction in rural areas resulting in loss of life and property. In the aftermath of earthquake the region was badly hit by intense poverty and a little of rehabilitation efforts were seen in the area because center of focus by government and the NGOs remained on adjoining and most affected Mansehra and Balakot region.
Since mostly people rely on agriculture and farming, they resumed their living with what they had in hand. Since women are not allowed to work outside the houses they can hardly contribute anything in the family income.
Women of Haripur are famous for their traditional Phulkari and Jisti craft. The art of silk embroidery on Phulkari chaddars and baghs (women’s shawls) can be traced back to the time of Greek rule in the area. In olden days Phulkaris and baghs were part of the dowry given to a bride as a gift at the time of her wedding. An integral part of the Hazara culture, this custom slowly died down owing to various factors. It was mandatory for every girl in the household to learn this art from their mothers and grandmothers and then pass on the art and skill to their coming generations. Phulkari was very widely appreciated because of its beauty, colors and the variety however due to poverty, lack of resources, law and order situation in the area, natural hazards and many other factors it remained practically impossible for young women to go with this craft as it demanded great toil but was not fetching much income. Moreover reliance on middlemen to reach wider markets also resulted in minimal profits eventually putting the great art to the brink of extinction.
The project aims to work for the revival and promotion of traditional Phulkari art to get benefits
threefold; to improve economic condition of the communities; to empower local women by making them an earning hand while remaining in the comfort of their homes; to keep a rich and beautiful tradition alive preserving its cultural value.
The intervention has a huge potential social return. The craft sector represents an opportunity for thousands to earn a living and own their own business. Crafts are often made by women, who
remain among the most vulnerable in these societies. If women are able to earn a decent living,
there is a proven trickle-down effect. Their families and communities thrive. Their work usually does not require literacy, but rather concrete skills that are passed on, creating an important legacy for generations to come. In even the most deeply conservative countries, craft production allows women to empower themselves and lift their families out of poverty.
The proposed intervention intends to revive the traditional art of Phulkari by supporting 150 women artisan of five Union Councils (UCs) of District Haripur (includes 14 villages and adjoining peripheries). The support will be provided to pre-identified women on design improvements, product presentations and profiling, basic business management skills (Khatadari), linking them to urban and international markets through product exhibitions, point of sale and e-Stores.