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Pakistani barbers decorate camels with ancient motifs in elaborate Eid makeover


Jan 21, 2015

Artist Ali Hassan creates a design on a camel's hide in Karachi, Pakistan on July 20, 2021. (AN photo by S.A. Babar)

  • Most of camel art designs are a continuation of Sindh's thousands of years old artistic heritage
  • Demand for camel barbering increases during Eid Al-Adha when Pakistanis want to buy the best and most beautiful sacrificial animals

KARACHI: When the season comes, Ali Hassan often switches off his phone as camel traders from rural Sindh flood him with orders to decorate their animals with elaborate haircuts and ancient Sindhi motifs.
Now in his fifties, Hassan has been practicing camel barbering for the past four decades and is one of the most famous masters of the art.

Demand for his craft usually peaks in the first weeks of January, and again during Eid Al-Adha when Pakistanis want to buy the best and most beautiful sacrificial animals.


Ali Hassan says he knows exactly which motif would look best on each animal as he decorates a camel with a traditional Sindhi pattern in Karachi, Pakistan on July 20, 2021. (AN photo by S.A. Babar)

"People reach out to get their camels a new makeover, so much so that at times I have to switch off my phone to avoid the influx," Hassan told Arab News at a camel market in Karachi earlier this week, as he finished decorating a camel's hide with rilli, a complex embroidery pattern used in the traditional art of Sindh.

Camel barbering in Pakistan is a distinctive blend of art and symbolism. The artists make the patterns by cutting the rough hairy coat of the camels with scissors in multiple stages. Later, some of them apply natural henna dyes to color these motifs.

Customers wait as barber Ali Hassan decorates their animal at a camel market in Karachi, Pakistan on July 20, 2021. (AN photo by S.A. Babar)

"Not every barber is an artist," Hassan said, "but there are many whose artwork has breathed a new life to the Sindh’s traditional culture."

His hometown, Daulatpur in Shaheed Benazirabad district of Sindh, is particularly famous for camel barbering, with hundreds of craftsmen practicing it in the region. At least 40 of them are Hassan's students.

"I tell my students that you can only learn this craft if you are passionate about it," he said, as it takes lots of time, patience and precision to produce good designs.

Most of the designs are a continuation of Sindh's thousands of years old artistic heritage.

Hassan's customers usually choose Sindhi artwork patterns such rilli and the famous ajrak. But some also ask for ancient cities and forts. Or the moon and stars.

Camel hair tattoo designs at a camel market in Karachi, Pakistan on July 20, 2021. (AN photo by S.A. Babar)

His prices range from Rs1,000 ($6) for Hassan said for a simple makeover to even Rs10,000 for special, more complicated designs.

Despite the price, camel owners still want their animals to be decorated by the best barbers whose touch everyone would notice.

"Artwork on camels costs much more than simple hair dressing, but everyone wants their camel to look different," Allah Bux, a camel owner, told Arab News.

Hassan knows exactly which motif would look best on the animal.

"When I glance at the camel, I instinctively know what to design," he said. "I've been doing this since my childhood. This scissor is my companion. I love the art."



May 31, 2020
Poor babies, going to be slaughtered 😞

Are humans meant to be vegan since animals can feel physical pain? Plants can't!

Among many arguments out there for veganism or vegetarianism, this particular argument perhaps stands out the most. As humans are very well acquainted with pain, and thus can hold a soft spot for the physical pain of a slaughtered animal. The ethics of mass production of meat via the meat industry will not be discussed here. Focus will be on whether humans should or should not be eating meat in the first place.

The difference between veganism and vegetarianism is that vegans don't consume anything that is related to animals, that means meat, eggs, milk, etc. Where as vegetarians are more relaxed.

A great argument is that plants don't have nerves or a CNS, and hence they can't feel pain and thus are a better choice as food for man. That's fine, but this doesn't rule out other ways of feeling pain. Like humans can feel emotional pain, perhaps plants can and do feel another form of pain that we don't yet know. They are after all living beings with cells, DNA etc.

Points in favour of an omnivorous diet:

1: Humans are not the only living being consuming meat. Some animals only eat meat. And its an important part of the ecology. So even if all humans become vegan, prey animals will still be hunted and eaten by other predators on earth. It is part of how nature is meant to function and humans are not separate from the reality of nature on earth.

2: Humans don't have an enzyme that breaks down cellulose. Which then results in cellulose acting as fibre in the body. Fibre is beneficial, but cellulose is not the only source of fibre. Other animals that mostly eat greens, do have this enzyme and they can indeed get the most out of eating plants by extracting energy out of cellulose. No ATP for humans from cellulose though. Thus humans are not as efficient at eating plants as most plant eating animals. The work (spending ATP) we would do to chew this food rich in cellulose, would not net us the same calories as it does for plant eating animals. [ATP is the energy currency of living beings. The muscles that contract to make our heart pump need ATP to function. ATP is generated in our cells by the mitochondria with the help of oxygen and glucose. All foods, fat, protein, carbohydrates breakdown into glucose in our body. Cellulose does not.].

3: Humans produce bile in the liver which is stored in the gall bladder. The purpose of bile is to emulsifies (fat that is eaten). This emulsified fat is then metabolized by lipase enzyme produced by the pancreas. This helps us digest fat and convert it into ATP. This shows that humans have systems in place that are meant to help us consume fat. Plants are not a good source of fat, where as animals (meat, dairy and eggs) are an excellent source of fat, and is indeed the easiest source of fat in nature. Ruminant animals (ie cow) do not make bile or lipase.

4: A critical vitamin, known commonly as B-12 is critical to human function. This vitamin is found in abundance in meat. It is not easy to obtain sufficient quantity of vitamin B12 from other sources. A deficiency of vitamin B12 can easily occur, especially in vegans and has serious health risks including death. The more common symptoms are anemia (can lead to death), nervous system problems like paraesthesias (tingling), blindness and muscle weakness. Vegans have to take vitamin B12 supplements to avoid these serious issues. In the past it would have been very difficult to source this vitamin from a dairy source. Dairy farming is a relatively recent phenomenon in the history of human kind. And for thousands of years prior to that, ALL humans on earth (including those who were living in the Indian subcontinent) would have had to consume meat to source this vitamin. So ancestors of current day vegans would have been consuming meat in the past to live healthy and survive.

5: The human incisor teeth are excellent tools for cutting through meat. Humans unlike herbivores have teeth for eating both the plants and meat.

Keeping the above in view, we can see that humans are not meant to be vegans. Humans throughout history, especially prior to farming were hunter gatherers, and relied on meat to survive and live healthy. Humans can live their best lives by maintaining a healthy balance in their diet comprising of fruits, vegetables, meat and other animal products.

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