Islamabad - The weeklong workshop of Kashmiri arts and crafts concluded here yesterday at National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage, Lok Virsa, featuring exquisite arts and crafts of Kashmir.

The Kashmiri artisans and some artistes from Pakistan conducted the workshop to impart art and crafts making techniques to amateur students and craft lovers of federal capital. The training was arranged in connection with the Kashmir Solidarity Day to show solidarity with Kashmiris through featuring their precious crafts to the young generation.

“It was an attempt to provide an opportunity for the participants to learn paper mache, gabba making, wood carving, shawl weaving and many other unique crafts of Kashmir,” said Fouzia Saeed, Executive Director Lok Virsa.

The weeklong workshop of Kashmiri arts and crafts was part of a series entitled “Craft of the Month”, where children build a relationship with the folk crafts and explore their cultural identity. Fifty students/children from the schools running under the administrative control of Federal Directorate of Education, Directorate General for Special Education and children of the visitors to Lok Virsa museums participated in the programme and learnt craft-making techniques from master trainers/artisans.

The Craft of the Month programme focuses on the theme `harnessing culture with education’ for students and young children to learn and know about the history and techniques of unique crafts. The 7-day program every month emphasizes on one particular craft while the students and faculty members from various educational institutions are invited to participate in the programme. The programme aims to promote and perpetuate traditional skills of Pakistan, provide knowledge to younger generation about the importance and utility of different crafts and serve as an opportunity for youth to learn about Pakistan’s rich, diverse and pluralistic cultural tapestry. It focuses on creating link between culture and education, encourage youth to value dignity of labor, foster ownership of their culture, inculcate respect for different professions and character building, help understand the contribution of artisans in the sustainable development of their community and country, engage youth in creative works by providing them on ground opportunities to learn the crafts from artisans and to recognize the hard work of artisans associated with various crafts in order to ensure continuity of the crafts from generation to generations.

Master artisans who imparted training to children included Shaikh Muhammad Yousuf and Ms. Gul-e-Zehra in Kashmiri embroidery and shawl, Irfan Ghulam Nabi in wood carving, Mukhtar Ahmad Dar in Kashmiri namda and gabba (floor rug and wall hanging), Liaquat Hussain in Kashmiri jewellery and Ms. Deeba Rana along with a group of three other ladies in the famous Kashmiri craft “Papier Mache”. This group of female artisans was contributed by Potohar Organization for Development Advocacy (PODA) for the program. All these artisans were possessing a vast knowledge and experience of association with their respective professions.

They have been participating in national and international exhibitions and festivals and promoting the image of Pakistan by demonstrating their skills before the foreign visiting delegates and dignitaries. An artisan Gul-e-Zehra said “Lok Virsa has provided a unique opportunity to the artisans to share their experiences and ideas regarding craft making in a very interactive and meaningful manner and show our creative approach”.

Deeba Rana, an artisan from Pakistan trained the students about the unique craft of paper mache in which masterly skills are involved to make beautiful decoration pieces from recycled papers and then applying paints in blazing colors to draw various traditional motifs and intricate patterns. The 70-year old Shaikh Muhammad Yousuf said “it was a unique experience for me to teach craftB makingB techniques to children. They were keen to know each and everything involved in the process. I tried to transfer my knowledge to them in an interactive manner.”

The venue of Heritage Museum was decorated with beautiful traditional Kashmiri craft items and related accessories for the programme.