The weaver produces the sousi garbi, khais, lungi (now negligible) farasi etc. The Sousi is a common wear of the women folk of Sindh and is available in beautiful colours and designs in cotton and silk.
Sousis, garbis and motros are made in an endless variety of striped design, they are named according to the prevailing colours and the design or pattern of the stripes. The panjkani (five colours), sat rangi (seven colours) zanzer-ao (chain like) and tillai (match stick) are most common.
Fabric woven and patterned is tradition of a people, translating dreams born in swift rising desert sands, dyes of indigo and vermillion red, from lattice patterns on fabric through a process, laborious and painstaking. An art and a tradition, the cloth of the inhabitants of Sindh ‘Ajrak’ — aptly described by Noor Jehan Bilgrami. The Blocks used are a beautiful specimens of wood carving.
It is a colour fast fabrics put to multifarious uses. Its making is lengthy, complex and highly technical art. In the first place, the cloth is washed in solution of water and ‘soak’ or the crushed berries of the lyre or Soda khaar, it is then steamed and stamped with wooden blocks. The die is dipped first in a solution the alizerin i.e. the red colouring matter, then in two other solutions for depth, the cloth with design printed on it is dipped sucessively in a solution of indigo boiled in a cauldron, dipped in a solution , dried and again dipped in indigo. Finally washed it becomes bright and pure Ajrak.
Ralli, Patchi Work Capplique
It means to mix, to join, to connect. It is basically a domestic craft mady by the women in leisure hours, made out of old as well as new cloth. This bright coloured cotton covering is an artistic elaboration of the patch work idea- a master piece of fascinating design and colour which takes the Sindhi women months to make. It is an instinctive artistry of patience and love. One marvels at the colour and design perceptions of the illiterate crafts women who painstakingly produce it.
The Lungi is a beautiful specimen of rich silk with board fringes of gold and silver thread. It is regarded to have been popularised by the Mirs of Sindh who wore lungis around their waists. At one time twenty one different varieties in all kinds of material cotton, pure silk or their mixture and woollen lungis were in vogue. This craft is now on the decline and it is rare to find a good piece today. Lungi today is more popular in the Southern and Nor then India.
Almost all the material for the Sindhi craftsmen comes directly or indirectly from mighty Indus. The wood from its bank is used for making wood carving, furniture and other stuff; it is also beautifully decorated with lacquer work, this craft is popularly known as Jandi. The Jandi craftsmen or lacquer workers practice their craft in smaller workshop and it is a flourishing cottage industry. It requires space to store wood, a lathe and little things that go with it ,–slicing, chisels, sticks of coloured lac and strips of date palm. Two different techniques are adopted by Jandi craftsmen for motifs and designs.
The Kashmore technique is basically inlay. The object after being coated with a fine powder, is polished and on the desired surface, the traditional floral motifs, medallions and panels are outlined with paint. These are then filled in with water colour and when dry, varnished with shellac. The painted object is finally turned on the lathe.
Lacquer work of Hala and Khanot is referred as the traditional style, where the wood is first turned on a lathe operated by hand into the required shape. The article is then heated over a slow fire so that it takes the lacquer evenly. It is then put back on lathe and the lac prepared earlier by melting and mixing with dyes is pressed on to it as it revolves on its axis. The lac is of different colours, and the order in which it is to be laid on according to the design is the special knowledge of the turner. The article is finally polished off with date palm strips while it is still on lathe. The traditional lacquer swing bed called the pingoh, settee and chairs, vases and lamp stands are popular Jandi items.
The art of wood carving developed in the Indus Valley from very early days. In constructing places of worship, palaces and houses, wood was the main material. Elaborated carving with extraordinary precision and accuracy is characteristic of wood work and is still visible at certain places in Sindh. Wood carved designs, floral and geometrical are done in architecture, furniture, doors, windows, panels, roofs etc.The stone carvers are also of the same family and use this technique on stone. Makli, Chaukundi and Shahpur Chakar bear witness to the excellence of this craft.
A needle work art where the Sindhi women exceled for it has come to her through ages. The thin bronze needles from the excavation of Moen-jo-Daro are witness to this craft. In the local jargon it is called the Bhart-filling in with ornamental needle work of a fabric in silk or cotton. It originated as needle craft by women for their personal adornment. The most picturesque of these decorative styles with different motifs is the Gaj, the Abochani, the Bokani, the Astan. They are amazing patterns of rich brilliant colours, gleaming with little round mirrors. Besides mirrors, beads and small shells are also used.
A specific type of embroidery with silver or golden thread on velvet or other kind of cloth is known as Zardozi, Persian origin ‘gold stitching’. Work done on Gota, Champa, Thapa, Kinara, Sindhi Jutti, Topee, Purses, decorative sheets are special features. The description of it is given in Shah Abdul Latif’s ‘Sur Maruee’; As long as you can spin, spin on, work-season soon declines; All spinners are-but work of all is not in favour lines She ne’er breaks thread, nor for rest pines who has realized the truth Threads Maru round my wrists tied-gold fine gold they are for me; Omar, do’nt offer silks to rustic maid, they leave me cold Because much dearer I do hold my worn ancestral shawl.
Caps originally intended for children are now made and worn by men, the embroidered cap is almost an article of national dress in Sindh.
Man must have first used clay to make objects for his needs and pleasure or as a pastime. No wonder, therefore that the markings on pottery or Moen-jo-Daro are easily amongst the earliest in the world. The potter’s art is the least changed; it is almost the same all over the world. In the developed countries it is now being practised on machines on a large scale with a better finish, but the hands that mould such forms on a small scale do so with prouder finesse. The potter in Sind prepares and kneads his clay dough and moulds it into desired shapes, dyes, prints and covers it with glaze. It is then baked in a gloat or a glazing oven.
The first stage, preparation of the clay dough is no big matter. The clay in its naturals state becomes the dough, for finer work, it is mixed with roasted and finely powdered flint (called the chak mak); this is then knead by hand. The potters wheel, a disc which revolves horizontally driven by the hand and regulated by the foot, is made to spin, the clay is placed on the wheel and the potter moulds it gradually giving it the shape he desires. The next stage is when he dries it in the sun. The vessel is then painted with colours from oxides of copper, lead and iron. Stencils are used in tiles but not in pottery. The vessels are glazed with unctuous earth called Channioh, which imparts glaze and permanence to the colours in the potters kiln.
No wonder the potters kiln has been eulogised by the great sufi poet of Sindh- Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai
Learn love’s test of skill,
O my love, from the kiln
Though it burneth by day and night,
from within its hot heart
Not a vapour doth start
The heart that’s within to betray
Traditional floor covering and other items:
The Khais used as bed spread or coverlet in Sind, was very much a domestic industry. The yarn is spun by the women of the house who dye and arrange it in tanee or the long lines of thread that make the wrap. The man works the loom and weaves. Both cotton and silk thread is used and it has bright colours. They are reversible each side having a different colour pattern.
Khatho (Wollen Blankets)
FARSI The Khato is the common man’s blanket, it is an emblem of dignified poverty. Blanket weavers are generally Koris and women of Khosa, Lashari, Mari and other Baloch tribes. The blankets or rugs are made of white wool woven in strips from 14 to 18 feet long and about 2 feet wide, the strips being afterwards cut in halves and stitched together. Bubak, small town in Dadu district was very famous for its Woollen carpets called Galicho its weavers were called ‘Galicho bafs’
The Sindhi Farasi (mat), is generally woven by women, in smaller sizes. It is commonly used as prayer mat and rug to sleep upon. They are woven with a shuttle in the ordinary way, the only difficulty being the production of the pattern, which, although regular, occupies the whole of the fabric. These rugs are generally 6 feet long and 4 feet broad. A coarser sort of rug, called Kharir is also very common. This, like a sack is made chiefly of goats hair. Horses nose-bags Tobro acts as Boro and saddle bags Khurzin are also sometimes made of the same material and with the same comparatively elaborate pattern as Farasi. Tall is generally used as a pad to be strapped on horse back as a saddle or as a namdha underneath a saddle.
In Thar, we have the Bhils, the Meghwars and Rehbaris who weave woollen fabrics. The Rehbari a shepherd tribe, is known for weaving Woollen cloths and wearing them in winter and summer.
The Sindhi tanner is a master in his craft. Using the mangrove and bubbur barks, and employing his own native recipes for curing, dyeing and oiling, he has perfected a fine technique for converting crude hide and skin into a soft pliable and durable leather. The woman embroiderer is no less an artist in making her designs and working them in colour. The Sochi or the Mochi, for that is how the leather craftsmen are termed, have the finest contribution. The horses Thadka is covered with designs beautifully worked in gold, silver and coloured thread. The ‘Nuth’ crowning piece on the camel’s back is a large coloured carpet of leather with beautiful designs, in applique in the centre and the four corners.