Lots of exciting products and trips around the corner....

I've been traveling over the past few months in my quest to find artisans in various parts of the Punjab. I started with Lahore of course, and I found woodcarvers and brass-in-wood inlay work makers, and then wound up in Multan - the city of shrines. Multan is located in southern Punjab, and is an ancient city. You can feel it's stature upon entering it. It's also littered with fakirs and much superstition. Like much of Pakistan, the population here has exploded, and you can also feel that in a very tangible way. It felt great to be back however, to a place I had spent four years of my life, at various stints. What was different this time of course, was that I was a man on a mission. I wound up in the part of the city that I had only ever visited once before - near the famed shrine of Bahauddin Zakaria. This is an historic part of the city, where on the fringes near the wall of what remains of a fort lie some run down ateliers of various craftsmen. The workshops had seen better times, but I was here in search of a particular "naqashi" painter: Malik Abdul Rahman Naqqash. His family have been painters for generations, and his work was exquisite. But few people he told me are interested in keeping naqqashi works in their homes any more - a truly sad state of affairs. I immediately gave him orders for some desk boxes, jewelry boxes and camel skill scroll paintings.

I'm heading to Multan again this weekend to meet up with the Naqqash and film some of his works for Ralli as they're being made. I'll also visit a blue pottery atelier that I have given multiple orders to. I might give some more orders for products and motifs I recently thought of. I was aghast to see the blue pottery craftsmen at the atelier without work due to a crippling natural gas and energy shortage in Pakistan. The government has essentially informed them that they're so low on the priority scale that they won't be getting gas until March 2015. It would be great for our site's patrons to buy lots of blue pottery so we can keep giving them lots of orders when they get their gas back again. 

Of course, this site was created with an inspiration from the stunning patchwork technique of Ralli, so one would expect Ralli products to be on it. After much searching, I've finally found Ralli-making women in the city of Larkana - In my excitement I've placed a plethora of orders for quilts, throws, cushion covers, iPad/Macbook sleeves and even a unique design I came up with for a jānamāz or prayer rug. I'm terribly excited for all the products, but especially for the prayer rug, because I'm tired of the mass factory produced soulless Chinese prayer mats in the market (#modernity) - and I believe the time is ripe to bring back something handmade, using classic materials, rigorous techniques and patterns. I cannot wait for all these incredible products and I really hope our patrons will like them, so that we can continue to expand and positively impact as many artisans as possible. Please stay tuned...