Cultural icon ‘Charpoy’ faces urban challenge but retains rural appeal

Cultural icon 'Charpoy' faces urban challenge but retains rural appeal
MULTAN, Sep 17 (APP):In a changing world where fashion and style continually evolve, the traditional ‘Charpoy’ – a symbol of cultural identity in the subcontinent – is undergoing a transformation of its own.
Once an integral part of the urban fabric, the Charpoy, a light bed made of wood intricately knitted with palm leaves, ropes, or jute, is gradually fading from the urban landscape.
Traditionally, Charpoys are crafted from wood, with beautifully carved or painted feet called ‘Poys’.
 The knitted surface is skillfully woven using date palm leaves or jute rope by expert artisans. In contemporary times, innovative adaptations have led to Charpoys crafted from iron pipes, knitted with plastic ropes, catering to changing tastes.
The charm of the Charpoy remains alive and well in rural areas of Pakistan, where it continues to serve as a place to sit and sleep at night. It is an integral part of hospitality, with guests often offered a Charpoy to relax. Notably, the world’s largest Charpoy, known as the “Hamacha” in local parlance, can be found in Dera Ghazi Khan, accommodating up to 50 individuals simultaneously.
However, in the urban landscape, the Charpoy’s popularity is dwindling. Rashid Qureshi, a resident of MDA Chowk, shared that his children no longer prefer the Charpoy for nighttime rest, opting instead for sofa-cum-beds and mattresses laid on the ground. He cited his own health concerns as a reason for the transition, following doctors’ recommendations to use a firmer bed.
Shamim Bibi, a housewife from Pul Bararan, revealed that Charpoys were absent from her household due to space constraints in her modest home. Her family members, like many urban dwellers, favor traditional beds or even sleeping on the floor.
Muhammad Imran Wasli, a social scientist, pointed out that the world has become a global village, with various cultural trends influencing society across all aspects of life. In urban areas, Charpoys are gradually being replaced by sofa-cum-beds, mattresses, and carpets, a trend attributed to shrinking living spaces as urbanization intensifies.
Yet, Charpoys continue to thrive in rural areas and driver hotels. Villagers often place Charpoys under the shade of trees to provide respite for weary travelers. This enduring tradition keeps the Charpoy’s cultural significance alive in remote regions.
Muhammad Iqbal, a carpenter, contemplated a shift in his trade due to declining Charpoy demand, with citizens increasingly opting for floor mattresses. Mian Tabbu Khan Daha, an expert Charpoy weaver, remembered a time when he could craft four to five Charpoys in a day. However, today, he produces just one or two Charpoys daily, reflecting the waning interest in Charpoys as interior furnishings.
While the Charpoy faces challenges in urban areas, it remains an enduring symbol of tradition, comfort, and hospitality in rural regions, a testament to the enduring power of cultural heritage in a changing world.
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