Sindh, often referred to as “Bab-ul-Islam” (Gate of Islam), has been and still is very rich in handicrafts. The textiles are very famous especially Ajrak, Rilli, hand embroidery, block printing and tie-and-dye. It also enjoys a reputation for textiles, pottery, clay, lacquer furniture, leatherwork and carpets. Each color, style, design and motif carries with it a unique symbol portraying the culture of that particular area and builds on people’s indigenous skills.
Sindh Region of AHAN has been contributing to development of handicraft sector through various programs and projects which address the missing gaps in areas of design & product diversification, quality assurance, marketing, promotion and product branding.
A list of initiatives undertaken by AHAN in Sindh is as follows::
|Hand Embroidery/ Textile and Accessories project:||Dadu|
|Hand Embroidery & Rilli Project:||Sukkur, Shikarpur|
|Silverware & Jewellery Project:||Hyderabad|
|Farasi Carpets Project:||Badin|
|Ceramics Training Project:||Matyari|
|Revitalization of Ajrak:||Matyari, Tando Mohammad Khan|
|Blue Pottery Kashi Hala project:||Matyari|
|Blue Tile Kashi & Building Material Nasarpur:||Matyari|
|Revitalization of Rilli:||Khairpur|
|Lacquer Art (Jandi) Khairpur:||Khairpur|
|Thari Embroidery project:||Umerkot, Tharparkar|
|A Stitch in Time Embroidery project:||Thatta, Shaheed Benazirabad|
|Lacquer Art (Jandi) project:||Kashmore, Matyari|
|Ajrak Wood Block Making:||Matiari|
|Khairpur Straw Work Project:||Khairpur Mirs|
|Khes & Loongi Anb Village Project:||Khairpur|
|Khairpur, Basketry Project:||Khairpur Mirs|
|Training of craftswomen in contemporary product development:||Khairpur|
|Training of trainers in Rilli & Embroidery contemporary product development:||Khairpur|
|Establishment of craft linked enterprises in rural areas of sindh:||Shikarpur, Kashmore, Khairpur|
|National Craft Development Project (NCDP) in textiles:||Naushehro Feroz, Thatta|
|Technical assistance to CDP partner NGOs:||Khairpur|
|Improving the designs of quilts and creating market linkages:||Khairpur|
|Skill Development of Artisans of flood affected Villages of Kashmore:||Kashmore|
|Sakrand Crafts Design Development & Product Finishing Centre, Shaheed Benazirabad:||Nawabshah – Sakrand|
Allah Dino Soomro
Since his childhood Baba Allah Dino, is associated with the field of Ajrak making locally called Ajrak Sazi in Bhitt Shah, District Matiari, and Sindh. His work is enormous in the field of traditional and contemporary Ajrak; it is a traditional cloth from Sindh that dates back to the period of the Indus Valley Civilization (2500-1500BC). The production of ajrak is lengthy and tedious; it is definitely a highly technical art, precise details of which are considered a family secret. Allah Dino with his craftsmanship brought revival in craft through using vegetative dyes and ensuring chemical free elements in product.
The making of Ajrak is an amazing and arduous art. Interestingly as it is an art that can not be learned in schools yet its perfection has never been seen altered since its inception. The complicated designs are first carved by skillful craftsmen on wooden blocks and then transferred to the cloth immersed in crimson-blue dye. Block making is family craft and passed down from generations to generations. Several blocks are made to print patterns effectively and with great precision throughout the cloth. For this ruler, compass and other geometrical tools are also used to maintain the balance and harmony of repeated patterns. An authentic Ajrak is made by printing the symmetrical pattern on both sides of fabric using the method called Resist Printing.
Ajrak now, is not only an inspiration for Sindhi people but people all over Pakistan and even outside Pakistan. People truly admire this esteemed art of beauty, perfection and harmonization of well-established and remarkable patterns made by the hands of skillful craftsmen. Ajrak is not the pride of one province rather its identity of our national heritage throughout the globe.
Mr. Allah Dino Soomro revealed a tale of success that portrayed a remarkable man, who lived a life of great virtue, and discussed his life story as an example to illustrate the most important qualities and values, like determination, self sufficiency, and perseverance, hard work, frugality and reliance on a sound code of ethics are the ingredients of success. He narrated how he shaped himself as an exemplary and a representative type through immense hardship. He proved that even undistinguished could through industry become one of the great figures of importance.
He has received great success through such field, besides this as Master Trainer he has conducted several skill/development trainings and builds great affiliation with AHAN. He provides technical skills and produce lot of students as to promote industry. He has been involved in this profession by childhood and introduces “Natural Dye” which has been known as first time in Pakistan, further he also introduced the variety of “Block Traditional Ajrak” which has received great familiarity all over the world. He has been encouraged and appreciated through his work especially his developed products are very much in demand i.e. Bed Sheets, Skirts Dress material Sari etc.
AHAN Sindh has implemented a project “Revitalization of Ajrak” in 2007-8, wherein Allah Dino had participated in training programme as a lead workshop owner and got his workers/craftsmen trained in new techniques of Ajrak Making using vegetative dyes. Since then the demand of Ajrak has increased in market day by day and furthermore this craft also transferred to his next generation.
Allah Dino has started his work as Ajrak Artisan at the age of fourteen years and slowly he learned the skills related craft and now it has been sixty years working in the field and transforming the skills to young generation through trainings, lectures in institution and organizations locally and outside country.
His rich experience in craft has earned him honor and fame in the field. This craft is now transformed into recognized enterprise in the region.
Allah Dino’s business expanded through numerous local potential retail buyers and fashion designers as well international buyers. He is running his workshop along with his son Ghulam Nabi, who is also known as Ajrak Artisan in the region.
During his lifetime, Allah Dino has received several awards in recognition of his work in Ajrak Sazi. In 2010, he won Excellence Award for Best Product Development from Trade Development Authority Pakistan.
When asked about how business is going, Allah Dino is pleased and optimistic about the future as well growth of Craft:
“My business is growing since my son has taken the charge of craft business whereas I am now in phase of paying back the services to community through transforming skills, experience to young aspiring artisans, students. Overall I am very happy, satisfied with how things are moving along right now.”