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Artisans renovating shrines with unique artwork

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July 16, 2011

Karachi
Ustad Noor Mohammad, an experienced and skilled artisan, was busy writing a verse, which was to be placed on one of the walls of the shrine of Laki Shah Saddar in Jamshoro. He and his team had been working on the renovation of the tomb for the last three months.
Noor Mohammed had 10-years long experience in re-designing and beautifying ancient tombs, shrines and mosques. He had worked with different teams and gradually developed his own group of young artists. “This work needs passion and commitment. Earning money is not an issue in our understanding. We work on the beautification of the mosques, ancient tombs, redesign some places and earn love of the people, who frequently visit these worship places and shrines to pay homage to the Sufi saints,” he said.
“We do not paint figures at walls but build pieces with textures and then put the same at proper places. We inscribe verses through pieces instead of writing with a brush. It is more creative that is why caretakers of the shrines and relevant government departments call us for doing this work,” he added.
He said that they could read scripts in Sindhi, Seraiki, Balochi and Arabic languages. Noor Mohammed stated that hundreds of devotees and followers of the Sufi saints visit the shrines on a daily basis. He said that many times, while working on different shrines, people gathered around him and watched anxiously, while he was inscribing verses and making textures. “We are paid Rs300 per foot, while officials arrange raw materials for this work,” he said.
Mohammed Mushahid, son of Ghulam Shabir, was one of the members of a team of traditional artists, who had been working on the renovation of Laki Shah Saddar tomb.
Sitting under a shed in the shrine premises, he was busy in cutting glass and plastic sheets into pieces, designing verses of Holy Qura’an, poetry of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai and flowery items, which the other artists were placing inside and outside of the

tomb.
Belonging to Multan, Mushahid left education after completing primary schooling. “One day Ustad Noor Mohammed asked me to learn this specific artwork so that I could earn some money and support my family. Following his advice, I joined his team and learned this unique art. I have visited several places in Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh provinces, where we designed tombs and mosques with this particular artwork,” he said.
Ustad Noor Mohammad’s team started work on the tomb of Laki Shah Saddar some three months back and the renovation work was expected to be completed in the next six months. The team was awarded a contract by the Sindh auqaf department.
The shrine was equally popular among the Muslims and Hindus, who visit the tomb frequently to pay homage to the saint.

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