May 312008

Myra Imran

With traditional architecture vanishing from construction designs of new homes, open-air display of beautifully carved village-style furniture just off Kashmir Highway is a window to the past.

Elegantly carved doors, some more than 80 years old, are brought in from villages in Swat, Chakwal and Talagang at these makeshift display centres set up close to the Golra roundabout. Also among the products for sale are pillars, frames and windows, all of them carved intricately.

The beautiful designs of the furniture depict the expertise of wood carving still alive in those areas. Although the Chinioti furniture remains quite popular among people with most furniture shops full of new and old designs, the traditional art of ‘chiter kari’ and the village style that is the specialty of these outlets, still needs to be encouraged and preserved.

Most of the furniture displayed is clearly quite old with dull brown being the dominant colour. However, there are also some doors and windows in bright blue and green, the colour quite common in a village set-up.

Involved in this business for past seven years, Bashir Ahmed told ‘The News’ on Friday that they could make the door look just the way a customer wanted it to be. “All modern locks can be installed on these doors as per the requirement of the client,” he said.

Bashir said that doors were more in demand, followed by windows and pillars. The most expensive among his products is a door with a price tag of Rs70,000 that he claims is about 100 years old.

Pointing to the hard work that goes behind producing such masterpieces, Bashir said that making a new door could take as long as one month. “No specific designs are followed as is done in making of Chinioti furniture, which is why every piece is unique,” he said.

There are about six such outlets in the area and most of them have trained people who can produce any antique design. “But usually the customer demands original items coming from the villages,” he said.

Bashir said that the overall business for such items was slow. “Previously, the villagers used to sell their doors and windows to us at a low rate but now they have become clever in bargaining that has also affected our profit margin,” he said.

According to him, posh furniture shops in Islamabad also bought their products and made big profit by selling them at considerably high prices. They also make supplies to Lahore and Karachi where these pieces are sold at double the going price in Islamabad.

Using traditional doors and windows in basic home design is slowly picking up these days but it is still restricted to certain class.

 Posted by at 10:00 am

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