In Ghazni, last gasps of copper industry
GHAZNI CITY (PAN): Many people of southern Ghazni province once worked as coppersmiths, setting up dozens of shops in the provincial capital. But now this craftsmanship is on the verge of disappearance.
Concern at the fast declining industry in the province, coppersmiths and residents cite the constantly rising utensil imports as a principal reason for declining demand for local copper products.
Mohammad Khalil Ayazi, a cultural expert from Ghazni City, recalls coppersmiths did a roaring business until recently. Scores of craftsmen associated with the industry supported their families.
Previously, there were around 150 coppersmith shops in Ghazni City, but now the number has dropped to only two. Ayazi traced back the once popular industry to the Ghaznavid era.
Researchers say during the Ghaznavid civilisation (975–1187), Ghazni City served as capital city, where the era’s cultural relics still exist.
In fact, Ayazi explains, the industry thrived throughout Afghanistan. But with the advent of the industrial revolution, the business is about to vanish.
As a consequence, the profession has lost profitability because there is no market for copper products in the city. He laments the government’s failure to keep the historical industry alive.
“Ghazni residents no longer have the passion for buying copper pots, given the easy availability of other alternatives,” the expert maintains.
Noorullah, 36, a Ghazni-based coppersmith, says they have been in the profession the profession through generations. Like other handmade products, copper utensils are increasingly becoming a thing of the past, he acknowledged..
Having been a coppersmith for two decades, he recently gave up the job, realising it was a waste of time. “In recent years, I would wait for days but there were no clients; no one wants to buy our products. So I was forced to close my shop.”
Another coppersmith, Khaliqdad, has a shop in Ghazni City. But he sells only large copper tureens, which people purchase for parties. Previously, he sold many other kitchen utensils as well.
Khaliqdad says his father had been in the profession for 20 years and if the situation remains same, he will have to quit the job.
He believes effective steps by the authorities can revive the moribund industry, which may offer employment opportunities to a large number of people.
Residents confirm Chinese products have replaced local copper utensils. One dweller Mohammad Asif the imported products lack quality, but attract buyers because of their good appearance and designs. Asif blames the government for not supporting the local products.
The provincial chamber of commerce head, Abdul Matin Qalandari, suggests Ghazni’s local products, if displayed abroad, will regain their lost value.
Foreign traders are keen to export local products from Ghazni, Qalandari claims, saying they are trying to find market for them.
A bazaar is to be established by the Islamic Civilization Centre in Ghazni, where a number of shops will sell exclusively copper products.
Exhibitions of copper products will be arranged, promises Qalandari, who wants Ghazni citizens to buy local stuff to boost the provincial economy.
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