Islamabad - As the artisan Arab Khan, 70, is one death bed, there is no one left in Shimshal, a large Wakhi-speaking village in Gilgit-Baltistan, to weave ‘Patti’ (woven strip made of yak wool) from ‘Sargaz’ (a kind of knitting thread). The people of Shimshal villages weave different kinds of wools at their homes being used in ‘Patti’ and ‘Plos’ (kinds of carpets). ‘Patti’ is used for making clothes, ‘chughas’ (winter coat), caps, waistcoats and many more products. Like other women of Shimshal village, Anar Begum, 65, is an expert in making wool threads which are used in weaving ‘Patti’ (also known as Pattu).

She used ‘Charko’, (Charkha) and sometime ‘Teer’ (a small hand-operated device for weaving thread) to produce wool threads from the hair of goats, sheep and yaks. They make three kinds of woollen threads like ‘Tund’, ‘Bheet’ and ‘Sargaz’. In the next stage, the male members of Shimshal village craft carpets and cloth from these threads. But these women are worried about the future of ‘Tumbon’, a kind of ‘Patti’ made of ‘Sargaz’, as Arab Khan is only expert left in the area to weave ‘Patti’ from this kind of thread. At the moment there is no one to adopt or learn the profession of Arab Khan. Neither his own children nor other youngsters in Shimshal village are interested in learning this almost dying art. The health conditions of Arab Khan did not allow him to showcase his skills during 10-day Lok Mela in Islamabad. Anar Begum learnt the art of thread making from her mother and she transferred it to her relatives, Rano Begum and Muzda Begum, who participated in Lok Mela festival. “Without the skills of Arab Khan, Sargaz would be of no use,” said Rano begum.

According to 60-year-old Chiragh Ali, like ‘Sargaz’ some other crafts are also dying in Shimshal village, as young generation is not taking interest in learning. Chiragh Ali is man with multiple skills; apart from carpet making he is a carpenter, mason, farmer and an expert in traditional folk dance of the area. “There are only 20 to 30 people left in our village who are experts in carpet making,” he said and that the quality of homemade carpets was extremely good that lasted for decades. “Plos weaved from yak and goat wools could be used for 50 and 150 years, respectively,” he said. Chiragh Ali requested the government to preserve the dying crafts of Shimshal village.