CultureGilgit - BaltistanPakistan

Wakhi Festival in full swing

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

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  1. Dear Readers of PT,
    This really makes me proud and happy knowing about the successful phases of the Wakhi week, being celebrated at the Lok Virsa. I am very optimistic about the future of GECA as a non political organization. It would require the same consistency and patience to start up some very new and vivid chapters to add to the development of the region.

    The time demands some very big initiatives which could be in the form of research to prove our identity and to preserve the true ancestral values which are source of inspiration for others and a source of commitment to our own selves.

    Many small nations have finally given up their identity and are no more considerable with their own identity in this arena of globalization.

    The Wakhi language which is although spoken in four countries has its speakers far less in number compared to many other languages spoken around the globe.
    Wakhi culture is very unique as is an amalgam of many interesting and thought provoking segments. The Wakhi language itself is quite an interesting language having more polite wordings and some alphabets which really benefit its speakers while communicating the other languages most commonly in use at international level. It has many commonalities with many of the languages spoken at international, national and local level.

    I wish and hope that GECA will not leave even a single stone unturned towards the preservation and promotion of the Wakhi language. Some may think that GECA was established for the people of Gojal and Gojal doesn’t mean only Wakhi speakers. I would proudly say that Gojal is the homeland of the Wakhi and Brushaski speakers settled there and there is no discrimination at all. The reason for starting up with the Wakhi language is that it has been paid less attention and very little work has been done towards its promotion at large. At individual level some very big contributions have been made but as a whole it is still far less than really desired. Whereas Burushaski language has already got its alphabets and a sound literature in that alphabetic form is available and in use. There has been already a great work done towards its promotion and development.

    We can not deny the contributions of Wakhi Tajik Cultural Association, which has done more than expected and are hopeful that GECA and WTCA can tie up strong bonds without loosing their own identity towards the promotion of the Wakhi Culture and Language.

    I wish Farman Bhai and his team all the very best for the ongoing assignment and hope that it will finally get its accomplishments and will meet the desired mandates towards a prosperous future.

    All the very best for now.

    Aslam Khan Ghalib
    Kabul, Afghanistan

  2. Dear all Wakhi Pameries,
    Congratulations for your unforgettably performance and I hope you will achieve your goals in cultural promotion keep it up, and I also congratulation the Organizers and thanks for Pakistan government to home provide us a nice cultural platform.

    Ali Aman Gojali
    Wakhan Cultural Promotion

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