Photos by Noor
ISLAMABAD: Wakhi culture seems to have won many admirers in Islamabad as could be seen from audience response on Thursday when folk artists on the second day of the Wakhi Cultural Festival at Lok Virsa presented some popular songs, folk music and dances.
Elders and youth from Gojal danced ecstatically on the beautiful tunes of rubab (a lute-like plucked musical instrument) played by Fazlur Rehman Sheerin Sodo, Haider Murad and Ali Ahmed Shani, daf (a large-sized frame drum), surnai (wind instrument) and dadang (a large drum). The main attractions of the day were the famous classical Persian song and dance ‘Sawdogar’ (Trader’s eulogy) presented by Shambi Khan, Mehman Khan and their team and loos (poetic funeral oration) by folk singer Sultana Mehman from Shimshal.
The colourful display of indigenous crafts, handicraft and local cuisines, especially molida and moch (chicken barley soup) attracted a large number of people.
Besides folk artists clad in traditional white chogas (long woollen overcoat), an array of folk arts and crafts from Gojal represented by master artisans are also present in the festival showing their mastery in various crafts like plos (floor rug weaving made from Yak hair), pattu weaving (lamb wool rug), embroidery, wooden spoon making by master artisan Shafqat and gemstones, etc.
Aziza Begum, the master artisan of traditional floor rug called plos, was also one of the attractions. Plos is usually woven by both male and female members of the family and are made throughout Gojal valley like Shimshal, Chupursan, and Ishkoman, Boroghil, Nagar, etc. It is traditionally made in natural colours of fibres used (black and white) from hair of the tail of yak and sheep wool.
The exquisite embroidery of Hunza Gojal which is mostly done in cross-stitch is famous all over the world. Haji Bibi, Sultana and Aziza are the master artisans of Wakhi style of embroidery. They make beautiful caps, handkerchief, crochet work, etc. Haji Bibi informed that their embroidery is so intricate that it takes almost a month to finish a traditional Wakhi cap. There were times when the raw material including silk was easily available near the Pakistan-China border, but due to political reasons, they have to go to Punjab to buy silk, she said.
Another stall which catches your eye is fabric weaving by Sehat Niso. She said that this craft is not a traditional craft of Gojal region. She actually got training from foreign experts some years back and now she is practising this art at her home. She makes traditional floral and geometrical patterns on her fabric.
Haqiqat Ali was busy in carving a thick branch of apple tree which later, would turn out to be a beautiful spoon. He said that traditional wooden spoons are an integral part of kitchen cutlery and are very famous throughout Gilgit-Baltistan. They are mostly used for eating soup prepared on different occasions. The large spoon is called kupchlaiz while the smaller one is called kupch which are made from apple wood. DAWN