Pakistan has a rich historical and cultural heritage. Culture is a unique compound of Artifices, behavior patterns and belief systems (Religions). The first is richly reflected in the cottage industries in the country. Home is the first and primary unit of industrial activity and Pakistan can be rightly proud of the rich variety in cottage industries.
The countries of South East Asia are famous for their cottage industries all over the world. They hold a mirror to their cultural heritage and people’s skills in handicraft. Tourists from all over the world are fascinated by the products produced by hands, the old method of production.
Economically cottage industries play a very important role in the country’s economy. They not only provide self-employment for millions of people but they are also important means of cultural advertisement in foreign markets. The models are like miniature Pakistan in foreign homes, as decoration pieces.
For thousands of Pakistanis, they provide part-time occupations and sources of supplementary incomes. All the members of the family including women and children contribute their shares to the honest earnings of the cottage. The art and the industry are passed on from one generation to the other generation. The maker or the artisan is proud, of his achievements and he puts his heart and soul in the product. It is a mark of his individuality and source of reputation.
Pakistan handicrafts have a rich variety, from crude ropes and rough mats to perfectly finished handlooms and gaudy and gorgeous carpets. The colourful mattresses, designful tiles and pottery, the alluring ajruks and camel-skin wares of Sindh, the needle works, conventional ornaments of Baluchistan, the attractive footwear, the sports goods, the leather goods, unique decoration pieces cutlery and knives of the Punjab, the caps and waist-coasts and firearms of NWFP; the shawls of Kashmir, the delicately worked embroidery pieces of Hunza and Kaghan, the earthenwares of Taxila and the designful and variegated metal wares of Karachi are some of the famous industries.
The government has established Pakistan Handicraft Corporation to advertise and market unique products. The Corporation runs Handicraft shops in the main cities-Karachi, Quetta, Lahore, Islamabad, and Peshawar in order to promote the sales. Then there are showrooms and shops in the main markets of chief cities, Murri, Gilgit Hunza, Chitral and Swat, and other tourist spots have shops displaying the handicrafts, – particularly. wood carvings and fret-work of a high standard.
No industry can flourish without government help and encouragement. Besides the financial institutions, a number of non-financial organizations have been set up. The Small Industries Corporation departments at the provincial level look after the development of cottage industries.
Handicrafts cannot be produced in large-quantities or mass produced. Moreover, they cannot survive without patronage by people of aesthetic taste and the rich. In the past, they were patronized by the rich people who were proud of their rare collections. Now they find a place in common homes in form of decoration pieces. Their demand in increasing day by day.