GILGIT TRIBUNE

Voice of the Mountain People

Wakhi artists enthrall audience

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on December 11, 2009

By Najeebullah & D.W.Baig

ISLAMABAD, Dec 10: Folk artists from Gojal enthralled visitors on the second day of the Wakhi Cultural Festival at Lok Virsa on Thursday presenting some popular songs, music and dances.

Wakhi elders perform traditional dance at Lok Virsa

Elders and youth from Gojal as well as residents of the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi danced ecstatically on the beautiful tunes of rubab, daf, dadang, surnai and other instruments played by Fazlur Rehman Shirin Sodo, Haider Murad, Ali Ahmed Shani and Mohammed Ali Sani.

Main attractions of the day were the famous classical Persian song presented by Shambi Khan, Mehman Khan and his team and loos by folk singer Sultana Mehman from Shimshal.

Yousuf Memon, Secretary, Culture, Government of Sindh was among the prominent personalities who visited the festival and appreciated the efforts of Lok Virsa and GECA for holding the festival. He stressed the need for holding such programmes in other provinces of the country so that the people of Pakistan could know about the unique and pristine culture, folk and lifestyle of Wakhi people. He offered to help Gojal Educational and Cultural Association in organizing such programme in Sindh.

Some elder women from Gojal enjoy musical programme at Lk Virsa

Ms Anisa, a student of arts at F-7/2 College, said she was really inspired by the uniqueness and tranquillity of Wakhi Culture. She took special interest in the works of women artisans and asked about the role of women in Wakhi society. She was impressed by the positive and constructive role of women in Wakhi society. She expressed her astonishment over the extraordinary talent of Wakhi women artists particularly the folk artist Sultana Mehman who played qupooz and sung loos from remote Shimshal valley.

Wakhi women busy at a food stall

Another visitor, Naseem Shah, who is a social worker, lauded the organisers for arranging the festival. He said he wished to visit Gojal to observe the cultural activities and lifestyle of Wakhi people in their own natural environ. He said that he found Wakhi people one of the most forward-looking and peace-loving people.

Folk artists and musicians from Shimshal, Chupursan and Ghulkin presented many enchanting items. The visitors were exhilarated with the tunes of rubob, daf and dadang. The  enchanting voices of Fazal Rehman Shirin Sudo, Ali Ahmed Shani, Hyder Murad, Riaz Ahmed, Zia and Rehmat Karim kept them dancing and enjoying  the whole day.

Media gave wide coverage to the festival. Niamat Karim presented sword dance which was enjoyed and applauded by the audience.

Qupooz is a musical instrument consisting of a single sting which was used in ancient times in Gojal. Another important item presented today was the famous Wakhi eulogy sinisai by a group of elderly women.

Besides folk artists clad in traditional white chogas (long woollen overcoat), an array of folk arts and crafts from Gojal are also on display in the festival. Master artisans are showing their mastery in various crafts like plos (floor rug weaving made from yak hair), pattu weaving (lamb wool rug), embroidery, wooden spoon making by master artisan Haqiqat Ali, gemstones, etc. Besides the carpet weaving and wallet making were visited and lauded by the visitors.

Wakhi children present dance at Lok Virsa

Visitors, including women and children visited various stalls and took keen interest in different crafts and handicrafts. Molida and moch were the main attractions for the visitors. They enjoyed the taste of quruth and felt the warmth of apricot oil.

The stall run by Wazir Aman holds various products made from sea buck thorn including jam, dried sea buck thorn and juices. These products are considered very important on medical ground as experts believe that their use can be helpful to reduce the risk of cancer and also can be a potential cure for cancer patients.

The exquisite embroidery of Hunza-Gojal which is mostly done in cross-stitch is famous all over the world.

Another stall which catches visitors’ eyes is pattu and rug weaving by a woman master artisan.

Different kinds of gemstones like lapiz, quartz, ruby, turquoise, etc. are available in the Gojal valley. Aslam Khan makes beautiful jewellery items like pendants, lockets, earrings and key chains which are famous especially among ladies.

Organised by the Lok Virsa, the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage, in collaboration with the Gojal Educational and Cultural Association, under the ongoing Joint Institutional Cooperation Programme between Pakistan and Norway, the five-day festival presents the unique unpolluted vibrant cultural heritage, lifestyle, traditions and rituals of the Wakhi Pamiri people living in Gilgit-Baltistan’s north-eastern region for centuries.

The main objective of holding the festival is to explore various facets of Wakhi culture, develop the understanding of the people about the unique characteristics and history of Wakhi culture and to pave way for documentation, research and preservation of history, language, arts and crafts of Wakhi community living in the Gilgit-Baltistan region.

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