Hap­pi­ness is Hala

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The tra­di­tions of Sindhi craft­work re­flect the in­flu­ence of 5000 years of in­vaders and set­tlers, whose var­i­ous modes of art were even­tu­ally as­sim­i­lated into our cul­ture. The el­e­gant flo­ral and ge­o­met­ri­cal de­signs that dec­o­rate ev­ery­day ob­jects — whether of clay, metal, wood, stone or fab­ric — can be traced to the Mus­lim in­flu­ence.

Sindh has a rep­u­ta­tion for ajrak, pot­tery, leather­work, car­pets, tex­tiles and silk cloth which, in de­sign and fin­ish, are match­less. Per­haps the most pro­fessed ex­po­si­tion of Sindhi cul­ture is in the hand­i­crafts of Hala, a town some 30 kilo­me­tres from Hy­der­abad. Hala’s ar­ti­sans man­u­fac­ture high-qual­ity and im­pres­sively priced wooden hand­i­crafts, tex­tiles, paint­ings, hand­made pa­per prod­ucts and blue pot­tery. Lac­quered wood works known as Jandi, paint­ing on wood, tiles, and pot­tery known as Kashi, hand-wo­ven tex­tiles in­clud­ing khadi, susi and ajrak are syn­ony­mous with Sindhi cul­ture pre­served in Hala’s hand­i­craft.

The qual­ity of these ar­ti­cles can be gauged from this quote of T. Posten (an English trav­eler who vis­ited Sindh in the early 19th cen­tury) that, ‘the ar­ti­cles of Hala could be com­pared with ex­quis­ite spec­i­mens of China.’ Kashi: The vil­lage pot­ters known as kumhaar across Sindh spe­cially in Hala, make ex­quis­ite earth­en­ware. Kashi work con­sists of two kinds: (a) Enamel-faced tiles and bricks of strongly fired red earth­en­ware, or ter­ra­cotta; (b) Enamel faced tiles and tesserae of lightly fired lime-mor­tar, or sandstone. Sim­i­lar blue tiles like Hala’s have been used in the renowned ar­chi­tec­tural de­signs of Makli and other tombs. Khadi: Hala’s ap­parel tra­di­tion is one of the world’s old­est with hand­looms and power looms dat­ing back to the In­dus val­ley civ­i­liza­tion. The hand-spun and hand­wo­ven cloth called “Khadi” was be­ing ex­ported to var­i­ous coun­tries since time im­memo­rial. Since Khadi deals in nat­u­ral fi­bres such as cot­ton, silk and wool only, spun and wo­ven in nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, it can boast of be­ing 100 per­cent nat­u­ral, un­like hand­loom and mills which re­ceive cot­ton yarn, blended with some re­gen­er­ated cel­lu­lose fi­bres. Khadi cloth has found its place in haute cou­ture and on the ramps of most em­i­nent fash­ion di­vas. Rilli: Rilli or patch­work sheet, is an­other Sindhi icon and part of the her­itage and cul­ture. Rilli is made with dif­fer­ent small pieces of dif­fer­ent ge­o­met­ri­cal shapes of cloths sewn to­gether to cre­ate in­tri­cate de­signs. Rilli is also pre­sented as a gift to friends and vis­i­tors. It is used as a bed­spread as well as a blan­ket. A beau­ti­fully sewn Rilli can also be­come part of a bride or grooms gifts. Sindhi Topi: Sindhi caps are also very fa­mous and man­u­fac­tured com­mer­cially on a small scale at New Saeed­abad and Hala New. Al­though the mar­ket for these caps is huge but the pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity re­mains lim­ited due to the in­tri­cate de­signs and pat­terns.

Like the an­cient his­tory of Sindh, the his­tory of its crafts is also very unique and in­ter­est­ing. It is said that the work of Sindhi ar­ti­sans was sold in an­cient mar­kets of Ar­me­nia, Bagh­dad, Basra, Is­tan­bul, Cairo and Sa­markand. Times may have ad­vanced now, new tech­niques might have been in­tro­duced in weav­ing and new mar­kets for Sindhi craft might have been ex­plored but the ro­mance of Hala and its crafts is still the same. The tra­di­tional crafts of Sindh thus con­tinue to live

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