Balochistan is the largest province in terms of area. No other part of Pakistan can match the rich variety of stitches in traditional embroidery created by the women and also well-known from the oldest civilization of the world” Mehrgarh” and its rich Balochi culture.
Balochi embroidery is one of the oldest in the history. Balochi female dresses are very famous because of their unique embroidery patterns adopted from the very native land.
The art, which involves the use of threads with unfaded colors, beads and tiny mirrors, has been passed down for many generations. One can easily link the motifs used in the dress making back to 7000 millennium B.C Mehrgarh civilization. Same type of motifs can be seen on the pottery excavated from the site of Mehrgarh. This is an integral part of the Baloch culture.
The Baloch traditional dress is called “Pashk”. The areas where such kind of embroidery is made are Makran, Kalat, Mastung, Noshki,
kohlu, DeraBugti, Sibi, JhalMagsi and kuzdar. An average dress takes 3 to 9 months to get completed. The price of a dress varies from design to design, ranging from 3000 to 45000 rupees.
The most striking feature of the women’s costume is the handmade embroidery covering the front of the dress and the cuffs of the
sleeves and trousers. These embroidered pieces are prepared separately and later sewn onto the dresses. The piece for the front of the bodice is square and extends across the entire front from shoulders to waist. Another rectangular piece (Goptan) extends from the waist to the hem of the dress and comes to a point at the top. The sides of this piece are left unstitched for approximately 30 cm so that it can function as a large vertical pocket.
It is a very difficult and time consuming work said “jannatbibi” who makes and sells such dresses. “I make one dress a year and I get paid when the dress is completed. This is my routine for the last 20 years,” she said. Name of Some of the popular embroideries are worth mentioning such as “Kapuk, Panch, Thaitookh, Jallar, Mehrab, Kantolo, Chandanohar, Mirchok o chamok, Morg-o-paanch, Gad-o-band, Jadok, Chamkali, Arif-e-chadar and Dillobitab. “The girls and older women of the Baloch areas in the interiors do not use charts or diagrams but create extremely complex designs in a random manner using the creative window of their brain. They are guided by the family members and elders who are already into the business.
Meanwhile, selection of colours and designs of embroidered clothes differs from person to person rather than from area to area. One can easily judge the place of creation of the embroidery by its unmatchable patterns. The embroidered dress is weared by both young and older women. Whereas young girls prefer wearing embroideries in bright colours like pink, green, orange, yellow etc., the older women wear dark colours like blue, black or brown and according to the Baloch tradition it is compulsory for widows to wear black or dark colors.
Balochi dresses are brought to the provincial capital Quetta where these dresses are bought by the dealers involved in the selling of traditional costumes for a very tiny amount. Later, the same dresses are sold on exorbitant prices without paying a reasonable remuneration to their creators.
These dresses have a huge value inside country as well as abroad, especially in Gulf countries, said “Haji Gulamnabi” who exports these dresses to Gulf countries. However, for want of publicity and marketing, this unique and valuable art remains hidden from the eyes of glob yet which would otherwise serve as a lucrative industry for the very creators of the art. A proper marketing strategy, therefore, seems a sine qua non for a better promotion of this unique work.
Moreover, government, on its part, should also take initiative to promote this worldwide by arranging exhibitions within country and abroad. Proper schools should be established where this legacy should be taught to the newcomers so that the people associated with this art form can get the reward for their work unrivaled creativity easily and justifiably.