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The Colourful Beauty of Tharparkar’s Culture

By Charity RightAug 24, 2023

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Nestled in the south of the country and just to the east of Karachi lies Tharparkar, a district in the Sindh province of Pakistan. It’s an area mixed with both beauty and adversity. Its devastating mortality rate is caused by a range of factors, from poverty and a lack of clean water to unemployment and low levels of education.

However, there’s far more to Tharparkar than many assume. Despite its high levels of poverty, the people of Tharparkar are unwaveringly kind, boasting a surprisingly low crime rate. But best of all is how Tharparkar is home to some astounding cultural traditions, such as their adoration of peafowl and the beautiful ralli quilts.

Peafowl

In the UK, peacocks tend to be found proudly roaming the sprawling estates of immaculate mansions as guests whip out their phones to take a photo. But if you want to see a peacock really thrive, there’s no place better than Tharparkar.

Peafowl are hugely important in Tharparkar. As an integral part of their identity and heritage, the locals are particularly proud of them. So it comes as no surprise to find peacocks and peahens all over Tharparkar, exploring the rooftops each morning to visit the people who feed them grain.

The local passion for peacocks isn’t a new thing. Over 2,000 years ago, even Alexander the Great was smitten by the beautiful creatures that had made Tharparkar their home. In fact, when he came across them in Tharparkar, he was so besotted that he even sent one home as a gift for his mother. Thousands of years later, peafowl have remained a staple of Tharparkar’s culture; they’re the subject of songs and poems, as well as a central element to local designs, from pottery to rallis.

Ralli Quilts

Speaking of rallis, they’re another important element of Tharparkar’s local culture. Rallis are traditional quilts made by women in the area, inspired by the local word ralanna, roughly translating as ‘to mix/ connect’. The secret of the craft has been passed down from mother to daughter for hundreds of generations.

The crafting of ralli quilts is a long-standing tradition dating back up to six thousand years. In fact, they were popular items exported to Europe even in the 16th century. For many women today, these quilts remain an important source of income, and ralli makers have been known to spend over 170 hours crafting each individual quilt.

It’s hardly shocking that residents of Tharparkar are hugely proud of ralli quilts. In fact, many blend the cultural significance of ralli quilts and peafowl together to create popular peacock-inspired designs on their quilts.

 

So next time you donate to feed the children of Tharparkar, imagine their journey to school as they pass by a rainbow of peacock feathers and colourful ralli quilts. With the opportunity given to them by school meals, we hope they will be able to turn the fortune of the region around and share the beauties of Tharparkar with the rest of the world.

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