Shahzeb Afridi

PESHAWAR: Seventy-year-old Riaz Ahmed from Lahori Gate area of Peshawar is keeping the art of vax painting alive as he is still making 300-year old Mughal-era designs including cushion, suit, table cloth, head scarf etc.

Riaz Ahmed said while talking to TNN that he is associated with vax painting for the last 60 years, but during that time, no government has taken steps to promote this art or at least keeping it alive. He said he makes all his pieces at home and waits for any exhibition or other event to put his items on display. He said he takes two days in making a vax painting and sales it in Rs2,000. The earning is not great, but still he manages to look after his family within this amount.

Riaz Ahmed has also seen peak of his work and due recognition for it when he was awarded Tamgha-e-Imtiaz by the government on March 24, 2012. He said he father and grandfather were also associated with this art and now he is doing all he can do to keep this art alive. He said his work got appreciation in all parts of the country and also abroad.

Riaz Ahmed said he wants to transfer his art to the young generation. He said he wants to do so to keep the art alive in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and rest of the country. However, he said he has not enough resources to do so, and needs government patronage. He said he can take classes and make practical demonstration to teach this art to youth if the provincial government provides him proper space and other related facilities. He said the government should also arrange workshops to make the youth aware about the importance of this art which is unfortunately diminishing with the arrival of modern technology.

Riaz Ahmed said his income is low because he has to work from home and he cannot produce pieces commercially because in that case he would need proper space and helpers. He said vax painting is a fascinating art, through which the youth can make income while working from their home.