Thatta Kedona

Culture is a Basic Need

Rural Tourism

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Strong travel movements characterize our times. The infrastructure, good connections by land, water and air make travel easy and suggest that everything is easily available everywhere. The values of the traditional culture however are increasingly forgotten in this scenario, although it is these values, which give the city dweller – the local one as well as foreigners a new outlook and possibilities to show off people and places. Which is why it is recommended that conveniences of city life be transferred to villages.

Tourists, visitors an travelers, for example to the Punjabi village Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka are best recommended to leave back their city ideas and thereby become more open for understanding the rural life and its rich, traditional culture. If the come with urban attitudes, the visitors will start pitying the village dwellers for the deficient possibilities. Currently the villagers there do not need gymnastic studios like the city dwellers, the dusty path from one village to another is sufficient for walking practice instead of taking rounds in an oval stadium, and so on.

The so-called conveniences of city life must be financed. The drainage water must be disposed of somewhere, cultural and other institutions must be filled with life.

While making a journey to a village, one should leave behind expectations of necessities of life, like multiple course meals, air-conditioned rooms, luxurious bathrooms, swimming pools, the list goes on because with such fixed ideas one cannot learn anything about the culture in the rural areas.

We have already reported on the tragedy of the traditional culture, -- the absence of assessment possibilities of the economic impact only when the traditional values do not exist any more. Do we give them the due value which is at that point of time is probably too late?

An eventual help here is the reference to the increasing environmental sensitivities in populations in industrialized countries. The protection of the nature, the earth, the water is a luxury, which must be financed very expensively, with the side effect that one is not able to compete with countries that over exploit their resources.

Should good sense prevail, and sensible people should ask themselves why the whole expenditure? Reference is made here to “Max Weber” and his work “Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.”


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:24 AM, ,

Handicraft - Men Center - AFA

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New handicraft are produced in Men Centre of AFA at TGD. Air Glider is another tiny winy toy manufactured by Zephanja from October 2007 to January 2008.

Readers of this blog remember the tin Rikshaw (toy) that is still very famous in gift market.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 8:34 AM, ,

Dolls Village Internet Radio

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(Click to enlarge)


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10:42 AM, ,

In the village

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There are lessons in the first landscapes of every one's life. Mine are a vista of green paddy fields, smoking with early morning mist, against a setting of line of green trees, which from distance looks like a shore of another land altogether. The tree lines appear inviting against a sky withering with the morning, interrupted by the dawn's red and blue brush strokes. My first learning in life was also in the village.

In villages everywhere in Pakistan, many people live without assessable roads or other civic amenities of this modern age. No telephone or the Internet, even the electricity is the recent phenomenon; some are still without it. But one thing that makes them more livable is clean environment there.

See one village and you have seen them all. The scenery around villages is attractive in its own way, open all around. The tracks and roads, wherever they are, swings and curves up and down. Roam around in rural expanses and the vehicles bump up and down the roads and tracks, giving fleeting glimpses of a rougher, more elemental existence. Villages pass by, with trees surrounding them and beautiful birds swashbuckling on the branches, like crows on a rainy day.

Life in villages is pollution free and quiet. Different shades and colors of waving crops and trees - solitary, in groves or avenues - beautify the landscape. The scene changes after the harvest. The air is always fresh and fragrant with the smell of earth. The only sound is singing of birds, ringing of cowbells and sighing of wind or some youth loudly singing Heer Waris Shah, Sassi Punun or Mirza Saheban at night. Cows, buffalos, sheep and goats move silently, hordes and hordes of them, jingling cowbells around their necks, and doves flutter in front of them. One sees butterflies fluttering, ladybirds creeping and squirrels jumping around. To me the places look like a paradise on earth. My paradise.

"I help my neighbors and my neighbors help me", is the philosophy of life in our village. Faith, sharing, contentment, grit, hard work and humor are few others. There are no marriage halls or other renting places. Daras (community centers where cultural diffusion takes place) are very useful 'institutions' for functions or for elders to sit and teach irreplaceable heritage of ideas to the younger generation. The learning that passed on to me in Dara turned out to be very precious: it was the legacy of the fable. Tandoor (Oven for backing bread) is still a meeting and talking place for women.

Cooing crows on the rooftops are still considered as a symbol for the arrival of guests in my village. Hospitality is like one of the cultural benchmark, as villagers strongly believe that a guest comes with the blessings of Allah Almighty. Pull a hay cart into the shad, to rest, to dream. You shall be served with hookka (Hubbell-bubble), water and food.

A cluster of memories - some overlapping, some isolated - of the village boy I once was stay with me. I am a result of my childhood experiences that I had in pollution free and clean environment. Which is why I see my future in the village?

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 3:41 PM, ,

Heritage Restoration

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The restoration of southern and northern parts of historical Wazir Khan Mosque has finally been completed, thanks to the generous funding by the US government.
The parts known as ‘Craft bazaar’, which originally housed calligraphers and bookbinders, are also ready to serve as a showcase of traditional arts and crafts after years of neglect. These parts of the mosque were in a state of disrepair for more than three decades; and the provincial archaeology department responsible for the maintenance did not have money for its restoration.

It was a typical case of blessing in disguise as some officials of the US embassy visited the mosque, a couple of years ago, and expressed serious concern over its decay. An amount of $49,000 under the US Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation was allotted for its restoration.

According to an archaeology department official, the restoration has been carried out on the pattern it is constructed. "It has been brought to its original form," he adds. Moreover, the department maintains that it will rent out its (craft bazaar) shops to wood-workers so that they can display their artesan work.
Located in a thickly populated area of Dehli Gate, in the walled city, it is one of the two most spacious mosques in Lahore. It reflects a blend of Persian and Indian styles of architectures.

Chiniot-born Hakeem Aleemuddin Ansari, known as Nawab Wazir Khan, had laid its foundation stone in 1634 and its construction was completed in 1635. It had been built with bricks and tiles and was entirely covered with arabesque painting and lacquered tiles. The inlaid pottery decorations and panelling of the walls were vivid and glowing.

The panels of pottery were set in hard mortar and flowers, with trees and goblets decorating the exterior of the walls.The plinth level was a storey higher than the ground. The facade of the main entrance of this imposing structure from the eastern side is laid with glazed tiles, which have numerous inscriptions of the Kalima going up to the ceiling in Kashikari.

Two wells had been dug to draw fresh water to fill the pond at the centre of the courtyard. Only one of them is functioning now.

One of the striking features of the mosque is its minarets built on the four corners of the courtyard. The flour of the mosque is paved creatively with symmetrical designs made of bricks.

Text and photographs by Zulquernain Tahir
Tags: Heritage, Restoration, Pakistan


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 8:23 AM, ,

Arround Dolls' Village

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One of the first places I came to know after settling down is a village Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka near Gogera. The unique claim of the village to international fame is the dolls and toys made by village women that are collectors delight all over the world. Dolls made in the village have travelled to International Dolls Museum in Amsterdam and also have been put on display in the "Themepark" at EXPO 2000 in Hannover (Germany) as one of the 767 worldwide projects - an example of thinking for 21st century. Earlier, the dolls participated in International Toy Fair in Nuremberg. These dolls show how culture goes beyond simple work of art and becomes collaboration among applied and natural sciences as well as other forces that affect our lives.

The murals are painted on the parameter mud walls in the village where doll collectors and people interested in sustainable development and rural heritage from different initiative groups come and stay as paying guests. The village folks still consider cooing crows as symbol of the arrival of the guests. Architectural competitions are held annually when best mud house is selected. The Chief Harappan Explorer Dr. Mark Kenoyer had the place on the jury in competition held last July. Two full time German volunteers, Dr Norbert Pintsch and Dr Senta Siller, and village people are working together to change the life and out look in this peaceful hamlet. Whenever I visited the village, I saw something new, something different, which the villagers do to make difference in a place where they belong.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 5:57 PM, ,

Thatta Kedona: The Toy Village of Pakistan

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The film Thatta Kedona: The Toy Village of Pakistan was screened in front of an informed audience here in Lahore. The show was followed by a heated debate on such activities and how every one can participate and on very incisive observations on society by Dr. Senta Siller.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 1:56 PM, ,

Russian Dolls

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 7:13 AM, ,

Greenland Dolls Project

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The idea for the project originated in the year 2002 and is based on the location of the west to east greenland. At first there were various contacts between Narsalik and Qaqortoq and in 2006 a meeting with the director of the group in greenland was held. The meeting took place in the south of the island.The pre-conditions for the project were good due to the parallels in the locations as well as the income generating factors sheep breeding and tourism.

After the activities came to a standstill and difficulties regarding deadlines and financing emerged but also as first orders for the Inuit-Dolls were received, the project was revived by arranging the finance and a visit to Kulusuk was undertaken in September 2007.

Complete manufacturing of the Inuit-Dolls is also not feasible here as the manufacturing of the naked doll would be too expensive here. For this purpose the doll bodies from Pakistan are used here. However, the hair and skin type as well as the face form correspond to the Greenland.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10:31 PM, ,

Husain Qazi in TGD

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Husain Qazi

SAJ Shirazi's article Dolly good (appeared in Dawn) opened up a basket of sweet memories and took me back in year 2000 when someone told me about a doll village apparently belonging to the fairyland. So strong was the impact of narration that I was soon in that village which was surely more than my expectations, a classic example of a dream coming true by vision, determination and action.

Dr Sahiba’s visualization of tapping the potential of village girls for making soft toys came true in just a year and the dolls of Thatta (near Gogeera, Southern Punjab) were being sold in the European market which -besides the apparent financial gain, provided confidence -particularly for the women folk of the village and sparked a quest for sustainable development, which continues unabated ....

The village farmers were trained in modern agri methods resulting in immense growth of agriculture, health and sanitation standards improved, the village school was revamped, massive tree plantation was carried out, a vocational centre was established for the training and skill development of village folks and of course the dolls and a host of other crafts are being produced and sold in and out of the country.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:12 AM, ,

Craft Bazaar

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Craft bazaar at the Wazir Khan mosque Lahore (Pakistan) opens.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 6:12 PM, ,

Have Been to Pakistan House Postdam, Germany?

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Complete List is here


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 12:29 PM, ,

How lo Love a Black Woman

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You know how to love  black woman? Find out here.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 8:50 AM, ,

Heritage Trail

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A road bifurcates towards north from Gogera town and leads to village Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka (TGD) in the backwaters of the Punjab. The village has become famous all over the world for dolls and toys made here by village folks. Volunteers from German NGO DGFK are working in this village since 1992. Aside from locals, large numbers of foreigners interested in rural culture, social work and poverty alleviation, and experts in different fields of human activities come to this village and pass by the grand building of Gogera Fort. Community based local NGO Anjuman-e-Fala-e-Aama is working in cooperation with DGFK under direct supervision of two full time volunteers Dr Senta Siller and Dr Norbert Pintsch.

The idea of the conservation of the Gogera Fort and turning into a monument not only for the foreigners who frequent this area but also for next generations has become one of the active concerns of the NGO. Norbert Pintsch, Volunteer Project Director Technology Transfer and Training Center for Men in TGD, an Architect by profession and social worker by choice is taking keen personal interest in this project.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:10 AM, ,

Dolls Village Honorable Guests

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Monika Kuppler is in the Womens Centre of the AFA in TGD for the fourth time this year. She has helped in the establishment of a Ceramics Workshop, which produces doll-house crockery on the basis of traditional culture and designs with the help of the young village girls.

The NGO, which has now become part of an international NGO network, has received a Seal of Excellence for Handicraft 2007 from UNESCO for its handicraft dolls, however it is still important to develop new marketable products.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10:00 AM, ,

Dolls of the World

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 7:54 AM, ,

Be in Cameroon

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Cameroon, a Place to Be

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 8:40 PM, ,

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