Thatta Kedona

Culture is a Basic Need

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Dolls from Thatta Kedona wish you happy new year.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 2:37 PM, ,

Much More Than What Meets the Eye

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Buffalo pond is already functioning in the village. The goal of the project is connect the (gray water) canals in different bazaars with the pond, so that grey water can run in the pond. On a special mark, the water will be pumped into the regional canal, and fresh water will be brought into the pond from the regional canal.

Update: Canals for grey water from several bazaars can already flow in the clean buffalos’ pond, which is now walled and have another pump house in one corner. Canal from the pond to the regional canal, with exchange possibility between clean and grey water, is helpful for the farmers’ buffalos.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 1:20 PM, ,

TGD Images

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Best mud hut in Thatta Ghulamka Dgeroka

Best exterior

Best brick house

Thatta Kedona stall

Growing with Thatta Kedona


Volunteers at work

Some of those who work together to make all that happen.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 12:00 PM, ,

Why travel

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Travel writing is a fine art; accepted literary genre that is read. Writers who are gifted with an ability to understand what they see can breathe life into a place when they narrate their travel experiences. The Internet that is wrongly considered a pedestal for instantaneous scribbles mixed with emoticons and indecipherable abbreviations has already become a place to find some good travel literature, travelogues and travel stories in addition to online trading of travel services. It can be one of the best display places for local writers to showcase what Pakistan has to offer.Travel is prosperity and leisure pursuit, which is a result of many things: history, heritage, culture, natural beauty and a quest to know what is unknown and meet wonderful people.

Pakistan is a land of geographical, geological, and natural contrasts and has every thing nature could bestow; from some of the places like Mehr Garh in Balochistan and Harappa in Punjab where some of the initial human activities began, Lots Valley (NWFP and people there) once home to Gandhara Civilization where Chinese Hiuen Tsiang who is regarded as an early trendsetter traveller treaded, or ancient city Multan that, as per the legend, is living since the time of Hazrat Noah (A.S.), Kalash community existing in an on the edge district Chitral still holding awaiting for anthropologists’ conclusive research about origin of their unique identity against all outside pressures for development and modernity, unsolved riddle where rivers were lost (River Hakra in Cholistan) to pristine locations in Northern Pakistan (tree line in Himalaya Range) where one can see two seasons at the same place — winter above and summer below, and thematic pilgrims for Sikh and Buddhist communities, to name just a few.

Now consider this: All major national publications have some portions designated for travel writing but it is a small and competitive market. For those who write in English — language that is understood on World Wide Web – the market is even smaller. Experienced travel writers are associated with newspapers and magazines and new ones get chance to appear in print only occasionally. The print publication should open more opportunities for travel writers.

There should be more travel journalism and industry news. Public should know if the Ministry of Tourism reduces royalty fee by 50 percent for climbing Pakistani mountains that are above 6000 meters.

Facts packed guidebooks with eye-catching, superb, clear and sharp images of people and places enlivening every page provide good background information into any country’s history, culture, attractions, and its people; information that are useful during journeys to new places. Guidebooks have their own style quite different that travelogues and travel stories. The guidebook publishing business is totally in the hands of famous foreign companies and it is hard for local publishers to compete with them. “Only foreign tourists need and buy guidebooks and they already have one when they arrive in Pakistan,” says a publisher Munir Ahmad. Still opportunities for travel writers do come up from time to time. Some guidebook companies also get updates and inputs from local writers and photographers that appear in their newer editions. Some time ago, for example, Insight Guides commissioned a local writer to revise their outdated edition. Tony Wheeler, British founder editor of Lonely Planet while marketing guidebooks on Pakistan prides in growing up in here for some years and has contact with many local travel writers for updates. But, Munir Ahmad says, “Publishing guidebooks is not a viable option here; it is difficult to sell books.” Same is the case with self publishing by writers.

Given the rate of travel industry growth and every one’s interest in knowing new places, people and cultures, so many Websites have come up that show travel contents all over the Internet. So far Pakistani destinations have very scanty presence on the Web. Print publications, particularly English, get the original work and pay to the writers whereas most Websites just recycle travel articles from print media.

This scarcity of places where to get published leaves the travel writers to turn to the Internet where they can pitch their ideas to many editors of travel Websites and or interested foreign publications who are always looking for new talent; eager and encouraging. Not only that, writers can read what has already been published there, find background material and facts. Quick search on the Internet reveal so many starting points, notwithstanding travel writing how-to services and premium travel writers’ marketers., where I am published some time, is a Web service that post articles by writers from all over the world. I have found it writer friendly and receptive to new locations.

In Pakistan, so far much has not been documented systematically what to talk of presenting it on the Internet for others to find about with an aim to tempt them to come here and see (and spend their money in the process). Which is why Pakistani travel writers and photographers have a vast field of activity on hand right at home? In addition to glob trotters with a compass, a camera and itchy feet, historians, geographers, archaeologists, geologists, naturalists and birdwatchers also need to publish their work in order to generate wide ranging interests in off beat and mostly obscure destinations in Pakistan. I know an engineer Itehar Mahmud who works with oil exploration firm and writes about places where ever he goes in connection with his duty. Mobashir Ahmad has travelled all along the borders, “for recognisance purposes mostly on foot,” he says, during his long service. He also writes his memories from the Salt Range (and Katas Raj) to Jhang and more in the form of travelogues. It is in this context the Web can be viewed as the playing ground for local talent.

Travel calendar of Pakistan is quite impressive. Where else in the world other than in Pakistan polo – grandest of all the sports — is played at the high ground like Shandor Pass that is called the roof of the world, or moving international cultural festival are held along Kharakorum Highway. But all the events on the calendar go without any advance publicity or follow ups. One wonders how interested people come to know about these events. PTDC list of events and festivals need to be improved and lot more can be included in the list.

Somebody has to write the travel literature in order to keep fuelling the demand for airline seats, hotel rooms, tour operators, eateries, transport companies, porters and facilitators, guidebooks, atlases, picture postcards and posters publishers, and other affiliates of the travel industry besides those communities whose major source of income comes from tourism. Kim Rahan, a traveller from China who bought History of Rohtas Fort on location, told, “This buy is to promote interest of people in travel related vocations.”

Too often, deftly executed travelogues or a travel story can accomplish much more than any other promotional activity, particularly a story that combine passion, personality and perspective. Every place has a story (and a history), as they say. If you have a drive to write, there is a need of extensive travel writing showcasing Pakistan  from Pakpattan to Pashin on the Web.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10:21 AM, ,

Blogging is Like Building a Home

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Blogging is like building a home. You start putting things together (working hard) and ultimately end up having a nice place. No?



posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10:04 PM, ,

Year end blogging review - 2010

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Read Year end blogging review - 2010 here.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 6:56 PM, ,

Right to Education

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Indian school stand by the blackboard at a Urdu-language primary school in Bangalore on April 1, 2010. The historic Right to Education from into force April 1 providing free and compulsory schooling to children in the 6-14 year age bracket with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking the states to join in this national effort with full resolve and determination. The new statute makes it obligatory on part of the state governments and local bodies to ensure that every child gets education in a school in the neighbourhood. Its implementation will directly benefit close to one crore children who do not go to schools at present. AFP PHOTO/Dibyangshu SARKAR (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10:21 AM, ,

So Muddy

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Youth cover themselves with mud during a festival at Nitzanim beach in southern Israel on April 1, 2010. The three-day festival attracts many young Israelis and includes rock concerts, meditation, yoga sessions and nudist camps. AFP PHOTO/DAVID BUIMOVITCH (Photo credit should read DAVID BUIMOVITCH/AFP/Getty Images)

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 12:02 PM, ,

Fine Art of Bloggging

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Fine Art of Bloggging - This article appeared in in Sci-Tech World daily Dawn

posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:08 PM, ,

Word of the Year - Austerity

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According to Merriam-Webster, "austerity" was the most-searched word in its online dictionary this year, sparked by austerity measures announced by European governments. Runners up include "pragmatic," "moratorium," "socialism," and thankfully, no Jersey Shore-related phrases.

Austerity clearly resonates with many people," said Peter Sokolowski, editor at large at Merriam-Webster, who monitors online dictionary searches. "We often hear it used in the context of government measures, but we also apply it to our own personal finances and what is sometimes called the new normal."

Second on the list was "pragmatic", a word that rose steadily in searches this year, and which the dictionary said "described a quality that people value highly, want to understand fully and are looking for in their leaders".

"Moratorium" was third on the list, reflecting the ban on offshore oil drilling that followed BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Other words in the top 10 included socialism, bigot, doppelganger, shellacking, ebullient, dissident and furtive.

Source: Merriam-Webster.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 3:25 PM, ,

Punjab culture

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


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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 11:44 PM, ,

Dolls on the World Tour

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Dolls from Pakistan are on the world tour these days. Last weekend they were in the Berlin Ethnological Museum. Earlier, dolls along with Dr Senta Siller were in a Museum in Vienna, and with Dr. Norbert, they were in Museum in Hamburg. Even before thy had visited Museum in Stuttgart.

On Thursday, 20th of November, they were also on display during the opening ceremony in the National Exhibition and Art Hall in the Federal City Bonn. Pakistan Dolls from Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka are now available in the Museum Shop.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:03 PM, ,

Jhando Art

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Young Aslam displays his art work (bedspreads sheets, table cloth, wall hangings, a melee of colour and an extravaganza of design) in Thatta Kedona show room at Lahore under the approving gaze of Dr. Senta Siller. Aslam needs no coaxing to display the finished pieces. As quickly as he spreads his art pieces, he rattles off the names. Persian 1, Persian 11, Masjid Wazir Khan, the palm tree, peacock palm, dancing parrots, the elephant tram and six peacocks, also naming the prestigious places where these designs are in use at the moment.

Aslam represents fourth generation of the family carrying forward the art of block printing that is at the verge on extinction. Block printing represents an age when mastery over art was the struggle of a life time of hard labour and Aslam does not seem to forget this philosophy even thought he has ambitious to innovate and diversify the art of his forefathers in a big way.

Jhando, the master craftsman exported hand painted and printed cottons and silks and velvets to agencies in London and New York. An international nomenclature some seventy years ago and now Calico Prints in Lahore is representing the family name and craft which once enjoyed international repute. Aslam is carrying the tradition further.

Indeed today Aslam with his skill of colour and stroke work, epitomizes an art technique which Jhando had carried to the pinnacle of perfection. Jhando -- the legendary great grandfather of Aslam -- was of course a figure of epic stature so to say. It was he who left to the family a collection of over twenty two thousand blocks drawn from diverse cultures like Muslim, Mughal and Punjabi cultures and Hindu mythology. The grandfather was illustrious too to be sure with his collection of awards and accolades kept zealously safe even today in velveteen cases.

Block printing is a very fine art that has matured over time. So intricate are the patterns that a single motif may need anything from two to twelve blocks to complete the details. Different block motifs cater to different colours in the same pattern. All this requires dexterity of hand to prevent them from running the other. The grand finale of course is the intricate brush work. Fashioned from local needs these indigenous brushes with all their quaintness high light of the motifs.

It goes without saying that Aslam’s exotic collection that I saw at Thatta Kedona is a treat for eye. Ironically, block printing is a cultural heritage reduced to penury under the influence of a mechanized industrial society and bulk production phenomenon. Yet one has to see it to believe the richness of this art from which even in its quaintness excels the grandeur of modern printing.

Preservation of the craft is a very noble passion but there is a difference in the preservation methodologies and objectives. “It is different to preserve the ancient cultural heritage for the sack of its perpetuation as an art and to do it for commercial purposes,” says Dr. Norbert Pintsch. Thatta Kedona is trying to patronize in order to preserve this (and many more) arts for the sack of those arts in their own original contexts.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:00 AM, ,

Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka - Punjab Heritage

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Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka - The Toy Village - is the name of the village in Punjab, about which a lot has been written, about its unique and special concept, Thatta Kedona is the name under which the handicraft products of the village and institutions connected to it within and outside the country are marketed.

“Thatta Kedona” is quite different in nature as compared to other NGO's or similar institutions: Help and support is provided to the people within the countryside, because “if the villagers earn some money, they are not forced to move to the cities, which are already overburdened with many problems”.

The agricultural activity in the village is not sufficient and therefore it is necessary to provide opportunities for additional income in the villages. This can be done by promoting the traditional culture and its conversion into handicrafts. The approach must always be understood in its totality and implemented properly.

The income generated through agriculture may be minimal, it may infact be just sufficient to meets the needs of basic food and simple shelter, but the cost of living in the village is definitely cheaper than the city; the push into the cities enables only the least of the migrants the promised benefits. The steadily increasing productivity of the urban industrial work place ruins not only the rural work place, but specially the life in the city; industrial production and global economics require increase in consumer base and destruction of resources, - in totality therefore not a great concept for the future.

“Thatta Kedona” propagates instead of a a mild effort rather Help Towards Self-Help, “Thatta Kedona” is not an instrument for development and financing of individual family interests nor is it an attemp at religious, political or educational infiltration !

“Thatta Kedona” does not exist with the help of donations or charity of the city dwellers, who may derive satisfaction from a good deed, -this is not compatible with the concept of Help Towards Self-Help: Donations and Alms help only superficially and encourage dependence, -a danger, which was already recognized by the founder of Pakistan and who warned against it.

In the so often propagated Global World, it is of much importance within a state to support Self-Help efforts on one hand to direct the population according to the available resources. If this does not happen, the increasing consumer behaviour kills the initiatives, which becomes known not in the beginning but at a much later stage, when reforms become impossible to implement.

The city culture is international and the problems in the cities worldwide similar, the traditional culture of diverse regions is something special and needs to be protected and supported, - Thatta Kedona is a metaphore for a change in the way of thinking: The future lies in the countryside !


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 7:12 AM, ,

Dolls network

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Proof of this is found in the escavations in South America, the Subcontinent, Japan, Italy, Greece, and other sites all over the world. Made out of sa number pof materials like wood, wax, clay, cloth etc., they were not only a toy but used also as religious symbols and cult items for example as miniaturized images of persons.

Even today they are used by many people as fetish. Today, the experts are not sure what was the first purpose of the dolls; as a toy, out of which the cult figure developed or the cult figure which became a toy.

Over and above their value as toys with educational value, dolls are realistic documentation of past and present times and therefore important source of our knowledge about the games, life, living and work conditions and economy. They are important cultural carriers.

Dr Senta Siller established different projects in Pakistan, Cameroun, Columbia, etc., in which small but long-term progress was made towards development of rural areas, help towards self-sustained development, discouragement of urbanization by way of income generating projects in the rural areas through production of certain types of handicraft items. Dolls are manufactured here lovingly and clothed in traditional dresses and accessories. Fabric design and types of clothing are revived and take an important place in daily life.

Dolls from Pakistan: The women project established by Dr Siller in 1993 in the pakistani province of Punjab, which has in the meanwhile also added a men centre, has 120 women members and it is generating income. The women here work not on full-time basis but in a traditional way so that family and field work is not compromised and festivals of different types, common in villages, can be celebrated as usual. The village Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka has about 1200 residents. The villagers established the NGO Anjuman-e-Falah-e-Aama in 1991, which co-operates with the DGFK e.V. (German Society for Promotion of Culture). The Anjuman itself co-operates with six further projects in the country.

Dolls from Cameroun: Three co-operatives (Akwatinuighah, Akaankang, HandiCraft CAT) are functioning since 1998 in Bamenda, the capital of the North-West Provinz in Cameroun, which is located near the border to Nigeria. Also this NGO co-operates with the DGFK, Germany. Bamenda has about 60000 residents living on seven hills, who speak eight different languages. Apart from the men of CAT, over 100 women manufacture a variety of handicrafts.

Dolls from Columbia: The co-operative Tantomejor was established in 1999 in Saboya and it works in the meanwhile with three other initiatives. Saboya has about 6000 residents near Chiquinquira, the capital of Departemento Boyaca, north of Bogota. Also this NGO enjoys cooperation of the DGFK. Over 100 women are engaged in the manufacture of handicraft items.

Project discription in other languages

posted by S A J Shirazi @ 12:16 PM, ,

Make your own Christmas cards

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How to make your own Christmas cards? Learn here.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:40 AM, ,

Social Media

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Use of social media applications is being debated across the World Wide Web. Fans support the usage of tools like Blog, tweet, Facebook to break down barriers between businesses, public servants and ordinary people to discuss ideas and gather feedback. Trend watches and analysts still see the social media tools as time wasting diversions. It is in this milieu that we need to look at the fast growing social media usage in our own, still low tech, corporate and public sectors.

Read Social Media in the Attention Age by S A J Shirazi


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10:50 PM, ,

Guests at Dolls Village

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:55 AM, ,

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