By Jameel Zaib

Balochi women have preserved the tradition of hand-made embroidery for centuries with exceptional designs and hard work embracing modern techniques. Especially the women of Turbat are known for creating unique embroidery and their designs as they are competing with modern machines which have not diminished the value of their hand-made classy work.

Yet, they are denied due share in the profit as the traders or the middlemen purchase the suits at very cheap rates and sell them at very high prices as the hand-made embroidery is in demand not only in Pakistan but is also sought after globally.

The district of Turbat is blessed with a rich heritage of handicrafts and embroidery. Women of Turbat have employed and incorporated a variety of decorative styles in the Balochi embroidery with wide-ranging designs. A single suit takes months to complete with a market value ranging between 20,000 to 60,000 rupees. Some of the traditional and famous designs are Gadda Band, Rind e Deewan, Arif e Chadar and Kantuk-e-Naal.

In order to provide for the family needs, a lot of Balochi women use embroidery as a part-time job. Their steadfast devotion to the ancient tradition is boosted by their will to steer their families out of financial constraints. Amid sophisticated and modern machinery, the value of Baloch embroidery has not diminished as the women of Turbat have brought a lot of innovation in their art.

With the increasing consumer demand for Balochi embroidery, the market exploitation of women has grown higher. There is an immediate need for technical units to develop the embroidery art and to provide the women with chances to retain their special position.

Aneesa, a resident of Turbat and an embroidery artist complained that the lack of technical centres has deprived the embroidery designers of the opportunity to sell their products at acceptable rates. With the help of the technical centres, they can directly connect with the customers and receive better profit. Thus, they are saved from market exploitation at the hands of middlemen.

Sohail Ahmed, a young social activist said, “Consecutive local governments have failed to achieve any breakthrough in promoting this unique talent of Balochi women.”

Women empowerment can only be materialized if their skills and expertise are appreciated. The women of Turbat should be credited for their distinctive talent and attempts to rescue the national pride of women.

As the International Women Day has recently passed bringing focus on the issues that continue to plague women, the female artists of Turbat demand from the local and provincial governments that no women artists are exploited by the middlemen. Every responsible citizen has to be part of this constructive scheme to uplift the morale of the unique embroidery artists.

Jameel Ziab is working with Pak Voices as a citizen journalist from Turbat, Makran division of Balochistan. 

All photos by the author