Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Why we do what we do !

Poetic Threads of Pakistan  ~ PTOP
Land of Gandhara ~ Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

 Poetic Threads of Pakistan ( PTOP ),( recently formed in late 2010) aims to preserve and promote the traditional hand-made arts of Pakistan’s remote provinces.  Pakistan stands out as one of the most dynamic and diverse cultures of the world in terms of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, artistic expression and creativity, ethnic groups and languages. It was one of the 185 countries to have adopted the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity during the 31st General Conference in November 2001.

In order to build sustainable, well-balanced societies, culture and development have to be linked. We hope to set out a platform that links together the issues of cultural diversity, peace and development, while highlighting the need at both national and international level in emphasizing the need for promotion of intercultural dialogue through the trade and promotion of traditional handicrafts.  In the field of craft heritage we must encourage all individuals and organizations interested, to work for documentation, preservation, and promotion of Pakistan’s rich cultural heritage.

Khyber Pakhtunwha is a land of diversity, known for its rich variety of dialects, customs, dress code, crafts and traditions. As a long term objective, this treasure of arts, if promoted, could be utilized for poverty alleviation within its cultural environment.

Reviving livelihood through handicrafts in post-conflict areas is of utmost importance. These income generating projects will help promote provincial harmony. By rising up after years of conflict and lack of consistent  infrastructure, the  empowerment of the craftsperson in KPK is paramount. In order to use craft skills to create an income for the rural craft person, bearing in mind the view towards poverty reduction, it is important first to empower the craft person by reinforcing fair trade practices. Both men and women’s handicrafts are important in this endeavor.

Hand-crafted jewelry is strictly men’s work however in recent years machine-made modern designs are more popular, leaving the hand-crafted workers with less work, subsequently less income, resulting in financial hardship. Some of the most beautiful hand-crafted jewelry is only to be seen in Museums these days. 

Most of the area of KPK where many beautiful textile arts originate from, are very conservative and restriction upon the mobility of females is common. The women of the province who have home-based embroidery & tailoring ability need continued mentorship and guidance in terms of utilizing their skills and potential. By empowering women in these areas, their involvement in decision-making on issues within the family and in the community can increase.

 By beginning to earn a livelihood in the revival of traditional handicrafts, the craftsperson of is this region can be empowered. PTOP hopes to revitalize the centuries old sense of design and technique in the textile and jewelry arts, which are solely unique to this area.

PTOP believes in supporting ethical business practices. We strive to support individual artisans, as well as cooperatives and organizations, which promote unusual craftsmanship and local artistic talent. Often there is a lapse due to lack of opportunities to effectively market their crafts. Individual artisans who are unable to support themselves through their trades are forced into menial jobs for lack of any other income opportunity. Even when they persist in their field, these artisans are frequently exploited for their craft and receive little return for the work that they produce, with the majority of the share going to middlemen.

Many of these rare and exquisite products rarely reach ethical buyers in the West because of the inherent difficulties of sourcing them directly from the communities that produce them. It is common knowledge that in today’s globalized world, often the poorest of communities are vulnerable to exploitation by wholesalers, harsh working conditions and child labour.

Market forces require and are in search of unique functional products as the demand for new and different products is constant. In the world market uniqueness is a value-added quality which helps in marketing a product.  There are over 36 different crafts which are being practiced in Pakistan which are to a great extent unique. PTOP can assist in reviving, networking and marketing these products to national and international consumer markets.

 We thank you for your interest and support!

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