Art in Brass
Pakistan’s functional and decorative brasswork catches the immediate attention of local and foreign art lovers. For appreciating these brass ornaments, one is not required to be an art enthusiast, as is evident from the wide variety of these pieces adorning houses and other places.
The designs on brass ornaments are either engraved or embossed. These two categories are called ‘ khudai’ and ‘ naqqashi’. ‘ Naqqashi’ refers to sketching of designs with a steel point on the ornaments, while ‘ khudai’ is the art of scraping the base of the ornament to bring out the pattern. These elegant patterns on brass are called ‘ minakari’. The use of valuable stones and addition of silver and gold enhances the beauty of this art.
Peshawar’s ‘ Misgaran Bazaar’ deserves a worthy mention, as it is dedicated purely to brass work. The brass markets of Gujranwala, Multan and Lahore have always offered brassware for households, festivities and large scale exports. As part of the traditional culture of Pakistan, decorative brass ornaments feature in wedding dowries, as serving ‘ tashtaries’ ( plates) for betel leaf and are used for sprinkling of fragrant rose water on special occasions. These decorative ornaments reflect the vibrant culture of Pakistan.
Brass trays, lanterns, ashtrays, lime boxes, snuff boxes and tobacco boxes; all carry engraved traditional designs. In the rural setup, brass-made agricultural products are popular with the farmers; the designed handles and containers prove their aesthetic liking for brass ornaments. Ornamental swords and shields are considered as valued gifts, particularly sent to friends and families abroad.
However, much of the traditional brass work has evolved into modern specialized designing. In the work of many modern designers like Ameen Gulgee, the brilliant use of brass sculpturing tells a progressive tale of this growing industry in Pakistan. The experimentation is not just limited to sculptural forms. Beautiful calligraphy done out of metal is a great addition to the traditional art of painted calligraphy.
Brass takes an edge in the decoration market due to competitive prices as compared to silver and copper. The metal gives the look of antique beauty, attracting more buyers
The innovation in evolved brass lamps, decorative furniture and objects of daily use being created by amateurs calls for a better entrepreneurial setup. Many fine arts schools in Pakistan offer brass designing as a compulsory area of study. It is good to see an interesting area emerging in designing from the rich tradition of Mughal emperors and warriors