Made in Pakistan: Handicrafts and Displays
I am always on the lookout for authentic handicrafts and local artisanal products, my obsession has led me across the country in search of such treasures. It turns out that I am not alone in this search and there are people doing some serious work in order to bring handicrafts and cultural goods to major cities across the country, There are individuals and organizations working tirelessly to bring together artists and craftsmen from across the four provinces under one roof, on a unified platform.
I have been regularly visiting a few of these exhibitions for the past five years and every year I chalk them into my calendar. These handicrafts exhibitions provide the rare opportunity for one to marvel at the works of some of the incredibly talented local craftsmen and to come across their most inspired creations. I attend the exhibitions at Lok Virsa, Daachi and AHAN yearly, and my experience at each of these is always brilliant and insightful.
The Lok Virsa exhibitions are held twice a year, and we’ve got one happening right now and continuing till 11th November. The week-long event comprises of both products and activities. Expect musical theatre, folk performances and dances, scrumptious traditional food stalls, and a spectacular display of arts and crafts. The exhibition is more of a full day celebration, continuing well into the evening. I had the opportunity to attend last year’s Lok Virsa and it was an experience unlike any other. Every province is allocated a space, you can go from listening to Punjabi folk tales to watching a traditional Pakhtun dance performance by simply turning a corner. I’m not exaggerating when I say that anyone attending Lok Virsa will feel exposed to all that Pakistan has to offer in terms of culture. A yearly visit to Lok Virsa Mela should be on everyone’s agenda.
Daachi Arts and Crafts Exhibition
Daachi foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to promote arts and crafts among the general public by holding arts and crafts exhibition twice a year i.e., in April and November in Lahore. The next exhibition is going to be held from 3rd to 5th November. This three days’ exhibition promotes innovative and socially impactful arts and crafts backed by vision and creativity. One can find beautiful Hyderabadi bangles and khussas, Turkish paper-made lamps, 3-D printed jewelry, hand-made embroidered bags and beautifully designed dresses. Another feature unique to Daachi is the astounding number of young, urban, female entrepreneurs who set up shop here, it serves as a teething exercise for most startups. Daachi is also a staunch promoter of organic products and has got a special corner for organic food and other cosmetic products. I visit Daachi twice a year and make sure to walk away with new goodies and handicrafts for my home and friends.
AHAN – Aik Hunar Aik Nagar
AHAN is a non-profit company and is a subsidiary of PIDC (Pakistan Industrial and Development Corporation). It is dedicated to supporting rural men and women who are skilled artists but are unable to start their own businesses due to a lack of facilities and business acumen. AHAN provides these skilled Pakistanis with a platform to display and profit off of their work. AHAN has recently started its signature event, named “Handmade in Pakistan”, which is held twice a year i.e., in March and October. Recently, the AHAN exhibition was held in Packages Mall, Lahore from 18th to 21st October. This four-day exhibition promoted handmade products from across the country. The exhibition features and promotes products on a large scale, with high marketing spends and round the clock media coverage. This year, there were 125 unique stalls set up, and one could find something from each province to add to their collection.
All of these exhibitions promote diversity, arts, crafts and traditional products and definitely leaves the customers in a great fix when it comes to buying products from such a huge variety. On the other hand, for the exhibitors, it’s a place to interact, socialize, promote businesses and startups and learn from one another experiences. Well, to me, I love photographing these products and promoting them on blogs and social media. The other side is of the story is that I love shopping and I just can’t control buying such artistic products. I hope this article tempts a visit from you.