Art Scene
Golden Threads
Artist: Sultana Ahmed
By Fatima S.Khan

According to Sultana Ahmed, a designer of soft home goods based in Karachi, “My inspiration is the beautiful things I am surrounded with”. Her exotic hand embroidered tapestries, cushions, table covers and plethora of decorative pieces are a feast for the eyes.
Sultana goes out on a limb to surround herself with exotic, antiquated, ornate and luxurious silks, and velvets and through a painstaking process of selection of drawings, fabrics, threads and embroidery the outcome is a timeless artwork.

She is a purveyor of some of the finest embroideries in the region; she artfully blends and overlaps Eastern and Western, antiquated and modern, the Mughal with Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and Louis XV. Each piece is unique for present-day lifestyle, whether eclectic, modern or glamorous.
Zhandra Rhode,s an English Fashion designer fascinated by Sultana’s innovative choices of finest hand embroidery and rich textiles, worked with her during 1990s on several of her collections. After some years, Sultana decided to make a transition into soft home goods.
The luxurious fabrics consisting of velvets, silks and jamevars, provide visual and tactile comfort. The tapestries are one of a kind enriched with dull embroidery with deep colored stones and dull gold threads. The gold threads, especially dyed to retain an antiquated stain finish, are then used with selective semi precious stones indigenous to the regions of Pakistan.

She works with several color palettes; however, they can easily be distinguished into two groups, autumnal color, with richer color tones such as cranberry and chocolate brown, for summer more of a pastel palette of peaches and creams.
The initial concepts are renderings, which show artfulness and appreciation for classicism, than illustrated in some of its more stylized patterns of motifs by some of the finest artisans.

Once the drawing selection takes place, the process continues with further selection of jewel-toned fabrics, perfectly dyed and than the more tedious hand embroidery with the exotic semi precious stones and antiquated gold threads. Experienced artisans work on it for days, where each piece appears as if handed down since generations. According to Sultana, “It is all in the detail”. She thrives on the completion of each piece of artwork.

Most of Sultana’s artisans have been working for her for more than a decade. Her Karkhana in the outskirts of Karachi, houses thirty - sixty artisans, each one excels in his field. Being an employer, she goes an extra length to provide benefits for her employees like paying for schooling and healthcare for employees’ children. Schooling is paid for up to a certain grade for each child. In addition, an employment opportunity for protégé taken into consideration, as the artisan in eastern culture passes down the fine techniques from generation to generation.

Some of Sultana’s illustrious clients are from the Royal Saudi family who became her devout customers, furnishing their homes with drapery panels, valances, calligraphy on tapestry, dining chair upholstery, table covers and cushions.
Within the last decade, her business expanded to various parts of the Middle East, Europe and the US.
She is a successful Pakistani businessperson and mother of two daughters who are equally talented and successful, Nadia Kassam the older one who is a famous shoe designer and Aleezah Ahmed who makes trendy kurtas and tops embroidered with jewels, Sultana is gracious and thankful for all her blessings.

 


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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