During my stay in Pakistan, I was constantly blown away by the amazing arts and crafts I saw ... past and present . The markets and bazaars were filled with peddlers and refugees from all over central Asia selling their goods... Western and Northern India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and many others. I felt like I was discovering treasures from an ancient civilization. There were many ancient, antique and vintage finds yet their artistic and cultural heritage is still alive and thriving with new creations borrowing from old traditions.
I'm not sure if it is an old tradition or new, but one of the artisans that I met (at Lok Virsa in Islamabad) was a man who was hand tooling intricate lace-like patterns in paper to be used as stationary. I couldn't believe the perfection he created by hand...one would swear the designs were created with a laser. And again, his prices were so reasonable. I still have many pages of these little masterpieces and save them for special occasions....they are hard to part with!
As an art major, I took many art history classes and never learned about the arts of Central Asia (Northern India, Pakistan, Afganistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan..). Why? I'm not sure. But, it infuriates me! Especially as Central Asia is home to one of the oldest civilizations on earth.... some say even older than Mesopotamia. I was and still am saddened that the only image most people have in their minds of Pakistan and Afghanistan is one of desolation, destruction, guns and poverty when there is so much beauty still to discover.
More artisans at Lok Virsa...
"Art is important. We tend to think it is a luxury, but it gives people deep pleasure because beauty is the personification of hope that something grander is at work."
~ Gil Dellinger ~
(see my post Slippers Fit for a Princess for more info on Lok Virsa)