PESHWAR: The recent wave of terrorism and the power outages have affected the business of Chitrali Patti and the people associated with the business are mulling over shifting to other sectors for earning their livelihood.
Chitrali Patti, called ‘Shu’ in Khowar or Chitrali language, is an Urdu word, which means strip or bandage. It is a pure wool fabric, woven from entirely hand-spun yarn.
It is usually produced in lengths of 20 yards, and is between 12 and 14 inches wide. It comes in natural shades of white, grey, black and brown and the distinctive walnut-dyed red.
Felt is made after weaving this yarn, which ensures to make it light and warm. Patti is traditionally made in parts of Gilgit-Baltistan, where in Hunza it is called Pattu, and Chitral, but now the fabric is also made in Matta and Islampur in Swat valley, Bara area of Khyber Agency and Punjab.
The synthetic fabrics using factory-spun yarn, which is prepared in Punjab and Bara are of low quality.
Sadiq Amin, president of the body of traders in Chitrali Bazaar, told The News that 400 shops in the market were dealing in Chitrali Patti, but the business has suffered badly because of militancy and terrorism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He said the decrease in the number of visitors from other parts of the country and abroad had affected their business. “Because of militancy, we can’t send our product to tribal areas, which was once our lucrative market,” he said.
He said that power outages had also affected the business as more than half of their product was now made through power looms, which were run by fuel and that had resulted in the increase in the prices of the Patti. He said that his family had been in the business for over 50 years but he would not allow his children to continue this trade, as it was no more profitable.
Sadiq Amin said that Pakol and Chugha was the traditional attire of Chitral but Afghanistan’s cultural ministry introduced it to the world as Afghan traditional dress. He felt the neglect shown by Pakistan government was another reason for this development.
Muhammad Fazil, general secretary of the body of traders, said the government should arrange exhibition of all the products made from Patti in Pakistan and abroad. He said the Cultural Directorate should also play its role in promoting the Chitrali Patti by holding exhibitions and facilitating those associated with the business.
Fazil said they used to have a thriving season only for three months from November to January. “Whatever we earn during this period, we spend it to meet our needs for nine months. People these days want to earn more money in less time. As the Chitrali Patti-making is a time-consuming business, many people are turning to other businesses,” he said.
He said though men sold the product in various part of the country but women were doing most of the labour. He said that by and large the women made the hand-woven Patti in Chitral. It would not be unfair to call it the business of Chitrali women, he said.