parallax background

Space Three - Haven of Natural Wonders

Mohanas: An Ancient Community Sustained By The River Indus

  • Craftsmen: Boat makers of the Mohana community led by Ustad Muhammad Hussain Mughal and Mohammad Rahib Mirani
  • Location: Sukkur, Sindh
  • Medium: Kail (Ash Wood) and Sheesham (Dalbergia Sissoo)
  • Dimensions: 6.7m (L) x 2.6m (W) x 2m (H)

The Mohanas are an ancient community of Sindh who have lived in house boats on the River Indus from the time of the Indus Valley Civilisation (2600 – 1900 BCE). This has earned them the title of Mir Bahar or ‘lords of the sea’. The challenges of modern living have changed the Mohanas’ way of life and their magnificent house boats all but disappeared from the River Indus.

The almost forgotten craft of Mohana boatmaking using entirely indigenous processes was revived after nearly six decades through a collaboration between Mohana master craftspeople and a miniature artist. This artistic dialogue and the boatmaking process took place in the historic city of Sukkur on the banks of the River Indus where many members of the Mohana community continue to live.

  • Video Documentation: Irfan Naqi
  • Editing: Hisham Hasan

Kalasha: An Ancient Community Of The Hindukush Mountains

  • Craftspeople from Kalasha Valley and Kohistan

This installation pays homage to the Kalasha - an ancient community that inhabits the remote valleys of Bamburet, Rumbur and Birir in the Chitral District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). Kalasha’s alarmingly dwindling numbers along with their material culture (tangible and intangible), their customs and rites of passage have placed them in a unique global spotlight where efforts are being made to preserve and revive their primordial cultural practices on the brink of extinction. In recognition of this, UNESCO has placed it on its list of Intangible Culture Heritage Sites.

The site has been a popular tourist destination where crowds of photojournalists, research scholars, academics, and travellers congregate to witness the colourful festivals that mark changes in the seasonal cycle and to celebrate the harvest, namely Chilim Joshi, Uchal and Choimus, every year.


The vertical panels in this installation are of Shu, Patti or Pattu – a handspun, handwoven woolen cloth from local sheep, yak and ibex. The wool can be knitted, woven into a fabric or used as a base cloth for embroidery. Pattu comes in natural shades of white, grey, black and brown, and the distinctive walnut-hull dyed red, roik. The fabric is often felted after weaving to ensure its lightness and warmth.


Interspersed with the pattu are the distinctive serpent-style headdresses of Kalasha women known as kupas. They are woolen headdresses that trail down the back covered with eight to ten rows of cowrie shells (chakash) – two rows of which are folded upwards on each side – and other decorations. As noted by Haberlandt in 1906, the Kalasha adornment is thoroughly a jewel of nature – produced and collected from natural surroundings and species of animals, birds, trees and flowers.

Shushut, or the minor headdress, is a head band with a tail at the back called tagalak, heavily decorated with cowrie shells, red and other multicolour beads, buttons, and flowers, worn underneath the major headdress kupas.


The elaborately decorated knee-length dresses are called jumlo – made and worn by the women of Kohistan in the mountainous northeast region of KPK. Jumlo is normally made from black cotton and has three main parts: the bodice, long and wide sleeves, and a full skirt. The bodice is decorated with large, serrated motifs on the front and shoulders which are worked in a free-style manner in back stitch, darning stitch and satin stitch. These dresses are famous for their very full skirts made from numerous triangular gores (insets, godets) hand-sewn together. Many of these dresses have hundreds of gores, going over eight hundred.