Tag Archives: Hyderabad

Ethnic Earthenware

Sindh is a land rich in its share of ethnic handicrafts including the manufacturing of high quality and impressively priced wooden handicrafts, textiles, paintings, handmade paper products, and blue pottery etc.

Lacquered wood works known as jandi, painting on wood, tiles and pottery known as kashi, hand woven textiles including khadi, susi and ajrak are synonymous with Sindhi culture. Hala’s artisans the village potters known as kumhaar across the Indian sub continent are still producing exquisite earthenware.

Kashi, or kas, was formerly the Persian word for all glazed and enamelled pottery irrespectively; now it is the accepted term for certain kinds of enamelled tile-work, including brick-work and tile-mosaic work. In Pakistan the finest examples of kashi work are in the Sindh province. Kashi work consisted of two kinds:

 Enamel-faced tiles and bricks of strongly fired red earthenware, or terracotta; Enamel faced tiles and terracotta of lightly fired lime-mortar, or sandstone.

Some authorities describe tile-mosaic work as the true kashi.

The name kas, by which it is known in Arabic and Hebrew, takes us back to the manufacture of glass and enamels for which great Sidon – a city of Phoenicia – was already famous 1500 years before Christ. The designs used in the decoration of Sind and Punjab glazed pottery also go to prove how much these Sindhi wares have been influenced by Persian examples and the Persian tradition of the much earlier art of Nineveh and Babylon. Hyderabad (Sindh), possesses excellent monuments of the best period viz. Those erected during the reigns of Akbar and Jahangir (A.D. 1556-1628). Tile-mosaic work is described by some authorities as the true kashi. From examination of figured tile-mosaic patterns, it would appear that, in some cases, the shaped terracotta had been cut out of enamelled slabs or tiles after firing; in other examples to have been cut into shape before receiving their facing of coloured enamel.

Conventional representations of foliage, flowers and fruit, intricate geometrical figures, interlacing arabesques, and decorative calligraphy – inscriptions in Arabic and Persian – constitute the ordinary kashi designs. The colours chiefly used were cobalt blue, copper blue (turquoise colour), lead-antimoniate yellow (mustard colour), manganese purple iron brown and tin white. However, blue, white and brown are the primary colours used by potters for making these ethnic tiles.

* Photos by the author

Summer Getaways from Karachi

Pakistan has a rich biodiversity whose full potential is yet to be exploited fully for recreational benefit of the public. Nowhere is this state of affairs more apparent than in Sindh. The people of Sindh, especially Karachi are often found complaining of a lack of recreational places and comparisons with the northern parts of the country abound. People living in Islamabad and Lahore have the luxury of zooming off to cooler climes like Murree, Nathiagali and Bhurban anytime they choose. Lahore itself is culturally rich and has something to offer every palate.

towards Murree and the northern areas

Karachi has discovered and rediscovered malls in all shapes, sizes and manner of pocket-emptying slickness and plain gaudiness. Shopping along with eating remain the main trends here. The beaches and beautiful islands are there but more development is needed to bring these into public eye. A look out of the city towards the surrounding areas reveals a vast desert. Hyderabad, the closest major  city from Karachi is rarely seen as a recreational spot. The lure of Hyderabadi bangles from the choori gali (bangle market/lane) and the glazed icing cakes of the Bombay bakery in Hyderabad and even the shrines are not bait enough for most Karachiites. Perhaps a visit once in a few years can bring back old memories without dwindling into boredom. Debal- the reported landing place of Mohammad bin Qasim, Chaukhandi tombs or the largest necropolis of Makli are good spots for the archaelogically inclined or artistically inclined like myself, but hardly good  picnic spots for a family outing.

towards Hyderabad

In reality, Sindh isn’t far behind when it comes to natural beauty in which elders and minors both can benefit and find a different experience away from the madness of the traffic and noise of the city. So, if you are looking forward to spending a quiet day in a serene environment with your family on a lower budget, with the feeling of being ‘out of the city’ then you can go off to the lakes. Apart from its several man made reservoirs, Sindh contains a majority of freshwater lakes – offshoots of the mighty river Indus, which continues its meandering course down into the Arabian sea. Here are the main lakes, which hold promise as weekend getaways:

–       Manchhar lake is the largest with an expanse of around 200 square miles. Located at a distance of 16 kilometres from Sehwan Sharif in Dadu district this lake is facing rapid environmental degradation. Still, the Mohanas or fisher folk in their floating homes and the surrounding tall grasses with meadows of lotus lend the lake its particular charm. It attracts flocks of migratory birds during the winter season and is popular as a hunting spot. However recently their numbers have dwindled. The dense forest surrounding the dense forest surrounding the lake is home to many mammals and small game. Be sure to take adequate food, water and c gear with you as facilities provided there can hardly be called adequate.

–       Kalri – Kinjhar lake situated near Thatta has an attractive rest house, boating facilities and during winter it becomes an ideal spot for fishing and duck shooting. The rest house is quite comfortable and according to the keeper, people who desire to spend a few hours and are willing to pay for the expenses hardly need book their rooms in advance. This lake is famous for its extensive reed beds and is an internationally important area for the breeding of wintering water birds. However, if you plan to go in for boating and have minors in charge, it is advisable to make sure you have life saving equipment handy and inflatable life jackets of your own and that not more than 4 people are accomodated in one boat. There are numerous stories of accidents and fatal ones at that, happening to people who have not paid heed to this warning. There is a plan to set up a resort and a water park near by in future, which may serve to make the spot more attractive.

–       Haleji lake is located within an easy driving distance of 88 kilometres from Karachi. Enroute to Haleji are its numerous lagoons located at an easy distance from Hudero lake, which thus
forms an ideal home for waterfowl from mallards to flamingos and birdwatchers. Approximately 200 different species of birds have been seen here especially on the outcrops of the pelican island and the cormorant island. Take your binoculars along and enjoy the view in the summer months but do not stay here after dusk, or even for more than a few hours at a time, as the area is also reported to be frequented by dacoits.

According to an estimate several thousand visitors visit these lakes every week and make the most of a picturesque and peaceful outing. Whether you are interested in hunting, fishing, bird watching, boating or simply travelling, the lakes of interior Sindh may provide a very different experience for you and your family.