Al-Makkah Handicrafts: Welcome to Gringotts
A few days ago, some friend and I decided to visit St. Cathedrals Church in Saddar. We arrived outside the beautiful building but to our utter dismay, the guard informed us that we weren’t allowed inside. Only members of the congregation were allowed beyond the gates, given the current law and order situation. Understandable, yet disappointing. We were about to turn back when I spotted the famous Al-Makkah Handicrafts across the street. I had heard about the shop yet had never had the chance to visit it till that day, so I convinced my friends to pay it a quick visit.
We ambled towards the shop on foot and entered a small, congested place. Colorful lanterns hung from the ceiling and the entire shop smelt of oxidized metal and polish. It reminded me of the Lestrange’s vault in Gringotts vault- full of treasures and artifacts. The walls were dedicated to wooden carvings of religious and political figures, metal wall hangings, swords, paintings, vintage clocks, lion-head door knockers, calligraphies, wall sconces, religious artifacts and a hundred other things my eyes could not even peruse.
The enormity of the collection cajoled a unanimous gasp from us all, as we stared in wonder at the fortune we had just discovered. There was a single person manning the counter and managing the shop, an old man who had been working at Al-Makkah Handicrafts for 35 years. He amiably asked us if we were students of St. Joseph- the school right across the street and seemed surprised when we responded that we weren’t.
We asked him to show us more and he led us into another tiny room with a cavernous collection. Rather than featuring wall hangings, this one housed antique objects of various types. There were pots and vintage boxes of various sizes along with carvings and miniature metal statues. I found a golden, antique hand mirror which looked straight out of Beauty and the Beast.
There were small, delicate metal boxes to keep jewelry in. There were miniatures of several mythical creatures like the goddess of Isis and Cupid. We also discovered a miniature of Lenin’s head which ironically enough, none of us could afford. There were large treasure boxes, sandooqs as well as vintage candle holders. The shopkeeper didn’t mind us digging around, discovery is part of the experience here.
We came across another room which was unlocked courteously by the shopkeeper. This room contained vases and antique decoration pieces. There was a gigantic vase right in the middle of the room which touched the ceiling. There were also tiny, metal plates and thaalis along with traditional paan-daans, retro crockery, and vases. There was also an impressive and slightly intimidating sword collection on the wall.
We ended up purchasing only an antique mirror and a tiny jewelry box since we were short of money and had really not anticipated such an amazing collection of handicrafts. The fact that this shop is in Saddar made me happy. Saddar is the heart of Karachi and is yet to be gentrified.
If you happen to have a penchant for antiques – this shop is a must-visit place for you as this place houses one of the biggest collections of antiques in Karachi. It’s a secret though, so keep it on the down low.