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The traditional art of warq-making in Hyderabad is at risk of dying out

HYDERABAD: Some of the traditional crafts are now “in the hands of an ageing population” and at risk of fading away in next few years. Similarly the traditional art of warq making has become invincible.

The market of Laad Bazar in Old city has witnessed a drastic decline in the business of silver foil (Chandi ka Warq). The area which had around 40 shops selling ‘Chandi ka Warq’ has only four left now.

The silver foil which is used to decorate the all-famous biryani to the seasonal and much-in-demand haleem to the all-year favourite kubani-ka-metta, gulkand-laden paan and innumerable sweets is in danger of being lost as demand for them falls in the digital age.

Making of chandi ka warq is a toughest occupation. It is created by prolonged hammering and flattening of a small piece of silver. After hours of pounding, the pieces of silver transform into brittle, airy sheets of paper.  Due to which the residents in the vicinity complained about the constant disturbance from morning to evening as a result they are relocated outside the city.

Syed Ghouse whose shop is located near the Mecca Masjid for over 70 years said that various reports on chandi ka warq allegedly being harmful for health affected his business badly.“It is a small guild business. Silver is expensive. The profit margin relies on a lot of risk factors. There are a few days we are able to make some profit. But it is such an old shop and there are so many artisans who have been working for us for decades. There are livelihoods attached to the existence of this shop. But, in the present state the business is in, I don’t have means to pay too many artisans. I am compelled to ask a few to stop coming to work,” he added.

Mohammad Afroz, an artisan working in Syed Ghouse’s shop said that. “Until three years ago, each shop in Old City at least had 30 to 40 workers. Just imagine, now my shop has only seven workers. For ten hours of intense hammering in a room without a door or even a fan, I am paid only `350. On the days without sales, the pay goes down to Rs 300.”