Thatta Kedona

Culture is a Basic Need

The soul of the dolls

Ten years ago Thatta Kedona project started aiming to fight poverty and to support poor women living in the countryside in the district Okara. The products of Thatta Kedona project have earned a great reputation both inside and outside Pakistan, thanks to the voluntary efforts of designer and social scientist Dr. Senta Siller. The main products are handcrafted dolls dressed in the garments of the different provinces of Pakistan and of minority groups such as the Kalashi and the Makrani.

In the past ten years there has been much talk in both national and international organizations, and in smaller circles, about supporting women living in the countryside. The key words in these discussions were 'women empowerment' 'tender training.' A lot has been written about this.

Women in the cities were encouraged but what happened in the countryside, where most of the population lives? In the village of Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka situated near Okara in the backwaters of Punjab, the local NGO has been successful in working practically on the small things in life and improving the situation of village women rather than leading discussions about urban culture and international theories. The pointing questions were: What can be done when a husband dies and the widow has to support their children on her own? What can be done when a wife is banished and needs to support herself and her children? What can be done, when heavy illness causes enormous difficulties in a family's well being? What can be done, when general conditions in the countryside deteriorate and lead people to migrate? What can be done to improve life in the countryside, to support the traditional culture, which is the wealth of a country and to change the socio-economic situation for the long-term?

For ten years now, practical improvements to life in the countryside have been implemented step by step by the village project, without prior spectacular theoretical announcements. Today, the arts and crafts project is one of twelve projects, in which the villagers are working together with Dr Siller and other voluntary workers.

State bodies have often praised the project and promised support - empty words as yet! A general acknowledgement of this work would not just be a good advertisement for official bodies, but they could use the village project in other parts of the country as an example of achieving step-by-step improvements in other parts of the country.

The words 'long-term effects' are always keenly used; where are the examples of long-term improvements, the illustrious development projects resulting from bilateral agreements? At present, the term 'success' is used in relation to industries and measured according to the masses. The small steps and achievements of the village project are no less relevant. They are culture-friendly and still economic. Why are they neglected by official politics? Because they are not spectacular!

The simple listing of economic enterprises along the N5 only looks at the existing facilities on 500 meters on both sides of the road. It points out the enormous developments without evaluating them. Parts of the original population living along the N5 road have moved to Lahore and have to comply with urban culture. More and more machines are used for farming, more and more tractors are driving to the sugar cane plantations and with the increase in electronic media, singing in the villages and conversations amongst villagers are disappearing.

Ways of living and the use of local materials such as clay are changing through the introduction of technology. A metal container is now exchanged with one made of plastic, clay buildings that are adjustable to the climate are being swapped for brick buildings. Now is the time to show the possibilities of the rich traditional culture and make its worth seen through its people, otherwise it will be very difficult and expensive to repair and to reduce the mistakes made by the classic industrial countries.

In the meantime worldwide urban culture is expanding and working with industrial principles. Parents send their children to school to have them educated, since this has been the right thing to do up until now, and it can't be wrong in either the present or the future. A good education calms the conscience and pays off in the form of well-designed documents and certificates: University of Lahore, College for Management, Institute for Management Sciences, Academy for Fashion and Technology, College for Information and Technology, University for Management Sciences, Institute of Education Management, and so on. How can one imagine that a well-educated person won't be able to find work later on? In the meantime one can live well from the educational funds.

These worldwide accumulations of mistakes can be discussed further at another time. It is not possible to reduce them, but looking at general perceptions of the environment can create an uncomfortable process of realization. Even areas that seem beyond these issues, such as that of the arts, are part of the, perhaps unintended, process of industrialization and its system of education and values. Whatever is taught is done so in a scientific manner, so that the skills of the past that are normally passed from father to son, are examined and taught academically as part of a curriculum.

The result can't be more than a flat generalization, which is spiced according to region and season and presented as a new discipline, maybe, institute for the acquisition of questionability and existential orientations?

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 11:16 AM, , links to this post

Suggest you favorite blog

Like so many years, Light Within is asking you to recommend the best Pakistani blogs. In Pakistan - the happening state - writing a blog is a great responsibility. Please show your appreciation for the best blogs (and bloggers) you have been following during the year. Also indicate the new blogs (including your own) and new bloggers that have come up during the year and we might have missed them. Leave your recommendations in comment section here or send them to sajshirazi@gmail.com.

Best of Pakistan blogs - previous years:
Pak Blogsphere - Top Ten Blogs - 2009
Pak Blogsphere - Top Ten Blogs - 2008
Pak Blogsphere - Top Ten Blogs - 2007
Pak Blogsphere - Top Ten Blogs - 2006

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 3:35 PM, , links to this post

Housing development


By Dr. Norbert Pintsch and Ghayyoor Obaid

A pre-condition for development of future-oriented housing concepts is the capability to be open and to question what is currently available.


Introduction

This long-term project of the IPC has its roots in the beginning of the 60's of the last century, which was characterized by continuously improving technological possibilities and enormous changes in the psychological and social behavior. These refer apart from raising of children, family life and way of cooking, practical methods of production and problems of intimate areas (discontinuation of shower and WC-paper) and clothing (different forms of fashion) also to furnishings and fixtures, which follow different compulsions. Similarly, the designs are more function oriented and therefore differ totally from the traditionally known and usual forms of design.

Development of Housing Concepts

The ruins of tomorrow are being constructed today! The more designed a building, the lesser is its half-value perio4 i.e. its Transcience and modernity! The projects described here are different from the conventional ones and more similar to structures in other, non-western cultures, for example a classical west-african compound in its design is not positioned on square or rectangular spaces but according to organically formed areas.

The experiences for the Extreme-Housing, described in the following two projects, are based upon a study of housing concepts in other cultures. The question in these projects is not, whether they are likeable in the present circumstances but rather how one can adjust oneself in a new environment. A precondition for that however is the awareness, how much of the currently available is relevant to the circumstances, which have still to come.

Current wishes and life-styles for forest walks, swimming fun, grill parties, golf, summer festivals etc. do not fit into these project forms because they correspond to conventional urban lifestyles. A pre-condition for development of future-oriented housing concepts is the capability to be open and to question what is currently available. There is still a long way to go till the general population realizes how to make use of technological advances in the best way.

The project city of Dubai is a good example of the limits of usual way of thinking in such projects: destruction of resources, harm to climate etc. These are the typical characteristics associated with conventionally designed projects, which are flitted with extravagant consumer-oriented installations, but from developmental point of view are just non-plus-ultra of the western standards; one is not gladly ready to accept that the project actually confines the development.

In the icelandic “Tube-Project” the technical capabilities of of local tunnel construction companies is put to use to construct pipes of 10 mtr diameter at a height of 275m in the volcanic region of Basalt. A unit will consist of two pipes, which are connected to each other through another through another horizontal pipe and a lift which transports which transport people from ground level. The imposing structure of the pipes offers a splendid view on the port and the airport, a factor, which influenced the developers comparable to the builders and investors of the Dubai model and which played a decisive role in the decision for this project.

The infrastructure is totally autonomous. The technology of the Savoniusrotors is used on the permanently windy platforms of the mountain plateau as well as the rain water, which is collected in containers and used in households, the waste disposal is managed through composting.

“Tower-Project” is based on studies of the 60's of the last century, which have their own history of development in the projects for the “new” humans of the social prognosis. The population development played an important role at that time, which can be seen in context of developments in space travel. Through science and research, a number of assumptions from vague concepts made it into the real.world. Without naming any literature references or research reports, let us confine to naming some key words the changes that have taken place, without referring to problems associated with them.

  • Reduced Individuality
  • Faeces and Urine collectors for processing
  • Reduced ownership
  • Changes in schooling and education
  • Changes in health related areas
  • Changes in life parts (facilities for certain age groups)
  • Gene manipulation in the biology (related to humans)
  • Brain manipulation in communication and Information Technology
  • Integrated production units (Termination of separate industrial areas in the economy)
  • Changes in way of furnishing (different from classical furnishing)
  • Changes in cooking methods.

The utopian looking changes may displease, but a look into the present time shows, that these changes are not registered as being unusual and are not seen in context.

  • Fast-food und soft-drinks
  • General uniformity, so-called International Design
  • Internet
  • “Harry-Potter” as synonymous for “spiritual” mass product
  • Gene manipulated foodstuffs
  • Directed influence on brain functions g.. Madness to remain young
  • Less employment
  • Tourism in an unreal world
  • Loss of religious values and its replacement by consume and event oriented lifestyle
  • Computer aided activities for body, memoiy and sences training and so on and so forth
Generally it can be established, that thje socalled progress is putting together of temporary solutionsw to the problems: there have been problems whenever humansintelligence. Only in very remote and faraway places is this development no so grave. Development extremists and progressw believers, mostly from urban city culture, refer to it as development emergency!

The “Tower-Project” is based upon the experiences of older, non-western cultures and is the answer to the conventional destruction of resources and the general unawareness about the - erroneous development in the western civilization.

In the beginning it is suggested for suburban areas, the diameter of such complexes is dependent upon the strength of the ground to provide room for 100000 residents, at the same time the project is also a link to the extra-terrestrial world.

It is well known, that each solution in the Greek-western culture causes two new problems. In the 150 or so years since the begin of the industrial era therefore theoretically 300 problems have been created. In the industrialized countries one success of the development is very limited. Free economy destroys resources, Society and Culture!

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 12:59 PM, , links to this post

Happy Birthday to Dr. Senta Maria Anna Siller


On the occasion of the 75th birthday of Dr. Siller Siller, I on my own behalf and on the behalf of all friends of Thatta Kedona, take this opportunity to thank her heartily for her exemplary and untiring efforts towards the cause.

Happy Birthday to Dr. Senta Maria Anna Siller – the honorable Mother of Dolls who is recipient of Floriade (the Netherlands), Gestaltetes Spielgut (Creative Toys – German Toys Industry), Bundesverdienstkreuz (highest civil order of merit of the Federal Republic of Germany) and many more honors.

We recommend Dr. Senta Maria Anna Siller for Pakistan President's Award for Pride for Pride of Performance.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10:20 AM, , links to this post

SPARC Initiative in Rural Areas


SPARC has laid down foundation of another beautiful tradition for preservation of special compounds in rural areas. The functional mud houses will be selected, earmarked and Mud House Owners in Rural Area (MORA) will be paid rupees 10, 000.00 per house per year for continuous maintenance (3-4 times repair of the mud house in a year) of the compound in their own mud homes. Mud houses must be open for visitors and students for physical measurements ( of temperature). This year three mud houses have been selected and earmarked. in village Thatta  Ghulamka Dheroka.The owners will be paid the award amount by Lahore based NGO SPARC at the end of the year (April next year). 


MORA will go a long way in preservation of rural cultural and traditional heritage as well as the functional mud houses.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 1:10 PM, , links to this post

Global Village


Global Village is a fantastic display of international culture, presenting a great insight into many countries' traditions - a fun wonderland right in the heart of Dubai. Look for dolls from Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka {at Pakistan Pavilion) when you are there and meet them.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 8:56 PM, , links to this post

Mud housing

Pakistan is increasingly suffering from an energy crisis. The electricity supply in most parts of the country remains disconnected daily for 8-12 hours; many rural areas have either no electricity at all as they they are too far away from the national grid to receive electricity. The situation points clearly towards the need to maintain and develop energy friendly construction forms and utilize alternative energy sources. Working in this direction, the German Development Agency (GTZ) has for example initiated a large electrification programme in Sind province with the help of solar elements.

The Mud Housing Project of SPARC also intends to make a contribution in the same direction by establishing a “model village”, samples for alternative construction and energy forms. The houses will be an example of traditional mud-construction techniques developed further through research. It will also show options for alternative energy, e.g. solar cooker, dry-WC, wind mill on the principle of Savonius-Rotor etc. - A sort of "Exhibition of Possibilities" never before seen in Pakistan.

The mud construction has unfortunately gained negative image due to influences of urbanization and urban life. Its positive value has been totally neglected. The project intends to bring about a positive consideration of traditional but energy-efficient construction methods. In order to evaluate the results in a scientific way, architecture students of the BNU Lahore, the COMSATS University Lahore, the Punjab University Lahore shall carry out physical tests, experiments and measurements on the mud houses constructed with different materials. Appropriate connections to these universities already exist through Prof. Dr. Norbert Pintsch (SES Expert and husband of Dr Senta Siller, holder of Federal Medal of Honour) due to his longstanding world-wide project work "Dolls of the World" / Village Project in Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka and other small projects already completed with the assistance of the German Embassy. Letters of Intent from the universities have already been obtained.

The purpose of the exercise is to enable the future decision-makers to consider the traditional mud-construction in new light and to integrate it into future planning. The usage of environmentally friendly and construction biologically cheap materials and traditional construction forms combined with alternative technology, can also open doors for future solutions in urban areas.

The samples of model village will be integrated into an existing cultural entity as a holistic project concept - the cultural complex on the site of the Peerzaada Cultural Complex on the Raiwind Road in Lahore. As the place is already well-known, a regular and high number of visitors to the project as successful public relations work is already guaranteed. Moreover, these mud-houses shall be continuously in use as they will serve as lodging for the artisans working there.

The project appears to be closely related to cultural activity, in essence however, it is a construction concept with educational value as an alternative energy-efficient method of construction.

The project will also be promoted through the digital radio project initiated last year as a small project in the village of Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka - the Dolls Village.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:43 AM, , links to this post

Rural culture

Prof. Dr. Norbert Pintsch

The most important factors for the current development were laid in the 19th century. The rejection of thinking and acting as a community meant for the technology an enormous increase in the industrial production because the division of work led to higher productivity and new professions and it appeared on the face of it to increase the standard of living in western cultures (for example the Taylorism as introduced in Ford automobile factories etc.)

Analysis of the society by political and economic thinkers led to development theories, which could not foresee the effects of these policies as evidenced today. The cardinal error by these theorists was the euro-centristic model, i.e. nobody took the happenings in other cultures into consideration.

In Smith's economic system, the free market functioned globally, as long as global meant regionally and maximum on a national level.

In Marx's political system the democracy functions internationally, as long as the power base is centrally located. This concept is also found in antique Greek city-state models on a local basis.

In both cases, there appears to be consensus on one point, i.e. that "multiple behavioral models (Artenvielfalt)" are not acceptable in these theories. But this is probably precisely the decisive error.

With this sketch, we would now like to analyze the present situation.
 

Present situation

It is the market factors in a democratically functioning society, which determines the general welfare of the people.

Since the market -in the traditional sense- neither takes into consideration the environment nor the traditional cultures, which are present in rural areas and production of goods leads to certain uniformity because of cost-reduction methods. Every effort must be undertaken, so that the (B.E.P.) does not fall short of targets under any circumstances. The multi-national concerns attempt by adding more products to their production programs to offer a variety of models: since all parties participating in the market work in similar way, but the demand in the market is relatively fixed and not able to be increased arbitrarily, it is clear where the wastage of resources is taking place.

The winner is the one, who has the largest potential of human resources as long as these can be controlled politically.

The intentions and the wishes of so-called democratic countries are understandable, if they exert all possible pressure on others to accept their form of governance.

If this effort does not succeed, their system -let us call it "western system"- would collapse together with all parties involved in it.

There are incredible factors, which remain unconsidered by the members of the City-Culture, they being the innovators and carriers of the enormous misunderstandings and the cardinal errors:

a) There are very different cultures

b) These cultures have developed over a long period of time in inter-action with the climate and the environment.

c) Each culture has its own set of rights and should be the subject of research to shed light on this enormous richness.

Of course much of the matter has been lost due to the way of thinking and the actions undertaken up till now, but exactly this is the task before us; to track down these materials.

Misuse of environment and resources are hardly a subject of discussion in economic appraisals. Similarly, the richness of traditional cultures, which still exist at least in part in the rural areas, which are typically described as "under-developed" is not mentioned in these appraisals. There is no code or value allocated to them. Only when the value has been destroyed, the damage becomes visible. The extent of destroyed traditional cultures is quite evident in the number of museums, i.e. as soon as the traditional cultures began to be considered as money making measures for the institutions, they received recognition as a valid market factor, but in effect became still more unstable.

As the international flow of money is not directed towards local industry and national states, there is a trend towards uniformity through optimization and standardization. This uniformity can be concealed through various designs and requires increased consumption of goods. In order to increase the consumption, the consumers (all consumers of the world unite!!) require financial means, which are actually not available to the majority of population.

Outlook

A special sort of market is created at the place where traditional cultures are promoted. Members of the community have a chance to participate, if they consider it a possibility to maintain their basic requirements, i.e. a form of satisfaction of most basic material needs must remain intact.

Author Prof Dr Norbert Pintsch, Voluntary Director, TTTC TGD can be approached here: pdp33@hotmail.com

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 2:31 PM, , links to this post


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