Traditional Quilt Makers Struggling to Preserve Centuries-Old Craft Amid Modern Challenges

Fri Nov 17 2023
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ISLAMABAD: Standing at the crossroads of tradition and modernity, traditional quilt makers in Pakistan are struggling to preserve this centuries-old craft due to the modern challenges as people now opt for a ready-made polyester quilt.

With the introduction of ready-made polyester-filled quilts, people go for them because they believe they are much lighter in weight and more in warmth. This transition has badly affected the traditional business, but people still rely on it in some Punjab regions.

In a rapidly modernizing world, the demand for handcrafted traditional quilts (Razai) is diminishing. Influenced by contemporary trends and mass-produced alternatives, the younger generation is turning away from the details of the conventional quilt-making process. The result is a decline in orders for these beautifully crafted pieces that once adorned homes and held cultural significance.

Muhammad Ramzan, a traditional Razai maker on Murree Road Bhara Kahu, was seen busy stitching hand-made quilts in his shop for customers. He told WE News that with the variety of ‘machine-made modern blanks available in various shops and shopping malls, the demand for traditional hand-made Razai has decreased manifolds.

When asked if he received orders for traditional quilts? He replied, “Yes, I get orders for quilts as people in remote areas from Murree and Bhara Kahu ask for these Razaies as they gift them to their daughters in winter, especially at their weddings.”

He said they have also started making hand-made polyester-filled quilts on orders and believed they are more durable than the machine ones.

Traditional quilt producers also have financial difficulties, which exacerbate the problem. Many craftspeople find it challenging to make ends meet due to rising raw material costs and their inability to compete with alternatives manufactured in factories at lower prices. This has led to several generationally passed-down workshops and family companies being close to closing down.

Kalsoom Bibi, a resident of Bhara Kahu, who was present at Ramzan’s shop, shared, “I admit that the polyester-filled quilts are lighter in weight and much more in warmth as compared to cotton filled. Therefore, I have switched to polyester-filled quilts hand-made by these traditional craftsmen.”

She believed that the stitching with needle and experts’ hand are more durable for extended periods, but the machine made are not stable, and their stitching do not last for a single season or two.

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