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A Lady from Northern Pakistan in traditional dress at Lokvirsa Cultural Festival, Islamabad.

In Northern Pakistan, particularly in Hunza Valley, the women wear caps under their serves. These caps their own unique embroidery style on them, along with ornaments and other decorations.

An old woman from Northren Pakistan in traditional dress creating traditional embroidery with needle and thread, Lokvirsa Cultural Festival.

Folk Dancers on Horses at Lokvirsa Cultural Festival Islamabad

The traditional dancers with the wooden horses dance in a circle. They wear the traditional bright coloured dress and dance as if they are riding horses. They dance on the beat of a drum and other pipes. This famous style comes from Punjab province.

A Traditional Weaver

(Khaddi Master)

A traditional weaver is weaving cloth at a Khaddi. They are called Jolaha in Urdu and they have expertise in knitting the cloth manually.

A Monkey Charmer with his monkey at Lokvirsa Cultural Festival, Islamabad

"The monkey charmers train the monkeys to perform various tricks and dances. They have a small DugDugee (the musical instrument in his hand) that the charmers vibrate in their one hand and dictate the monkey to jump, dance or act like a soldier, college boy, wrestler or a newly wedded groom visiting his in-laws home with a style. The charmer speaks all these loudly, and the monkey performs the acts as ordered by his master. At the end of this show, the monkey carries the bowl (one jar under the knee of the master) to collect money and gifts from the viewers. This monkey has a modern look by applying gel to its hair to make spikes and wearing sunglasses to give it a more stylish look. The monkey charmers are nomadic people and they travel from village to village for these street-shows, which are equally enjoyed by the children and the elders."

A Wedding Singer (Gadvee Wali)

"A Gadvee Wali Singer is a folk singer that takes part in weddings in the villages and towns in Pakistan. They move in a group of two or three performers, mostly female, and they sing wedding songs. The instrument she is carrying is called Dholki (a small dhol means drum), that she plays with her hands to create beats while the other team members clap and join the lead singer in chorus. They are called Gadvee wali because that also carry a Gadvee (a small cooking pot) that they play with by striking some coin to it to create music. They sing folk songs as well as famous songs of Indian and Pakistani movie songs. They are given money at the end of their performances."


A folk singer from Sindh at Lokversa Cultural Festival, Islamabad [left]

"A singer with his traditional instrument and dress at Lokvirsa Cultural Festival. The shawl (scarf) around his neck is called Ajrak which is a prominent cultural dress across Sindh, and is also often presented as a souvenir to guests. The traditional cap he wears has a special embroidery on it. The singer sings Sufi and folk songs of love and peace."

Folk Musician (Shehnai masters) at Lokvirsa cultural festival [right]

"A Folk musicias from the Punjab busy in playing the folk instrument called Shehnaai. These performers participate in wedding ceremonies and they are accompanied by the drum players. The Shahnai masters play various folk songs and famous songs from Indian and Pakistani movies."

A Jogi with his Been (A Snake Charmer with his musical instrument)

Man from the Jogi tribe found in Southern Pakistan. The Jogi live a nomadic life; mostly they live in deserts and catch snakes and train them to dance on the sound of this musical instrument called Been. They also give the medication for several diseases specially to cure the bite of a snake. They wear bright coloured shirts—particularly, orange. They travel from village to village to perform their show of making a snake wave its head with the sound of the Been."

Krishan Laal Bheel (National Award-Winning Preforming Artist) from Sindh, Pakistan [right]

"A folk dancer with his musical instruments from the deserts of Sindh, at the annual Lokvirsa Cultural Festival. He sings, and his accompanying artists dance in the circle. They mostly sing the folk and Sufi songs in their regional language Sindhi. They wear traditional dress in vibrant colours with elaborate embroidery."

Series of digital photographs

In 2014, Sajjad Haider attended the Lokvirsa Cultural Festival near his home in Islamabad, Pakistan. This annual festival is a celebration of Pakistani culture, with the express aims of documenting, preserving and also promoting cultural heritage.  

For Multimedia Anthropology Now, UCL MAL presents ten images from series, with accompanying descriptions written by Haider. 

These images serve as prime examples of ethnographic portraiture. As a local, Haider was able to use his insight to take nuanced portraits that capture the energy and spirit of the festival as well as the individual personalities and subjectivities of each person. As an insider, Haider co-constructed these images with his subjects to create powerful works that see each individual captured as a proud representative of a collective culture. Haider is not a voyeur, but a fully-fledged participant enmeshed in the social fabric of this community.

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sajjad haider


Haider is a PhD Anthropology candidate and Fieldwork Supervisor in the Department of Anthropology at Quair-i-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan. His current research is focused on Gender Inclusive Active citizenship in Pakistan, and specifically examines the role of Facebook. In the past, Haider's has explored topics surrounding digital culture and social media studies with a career-long active engagement with visual anthropology. During his post graduate training, Haider conducted resarch on the  famous Pakistani Truck Art in Khushab in the central province of Punjab. His dissertation, Aesthetic Appreciation of Truck Art, examined the role that truck drivers play in the production of truck art.

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Sajjad Haider, is an Anthropologist who has been serving at the Department of Anthropology, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. He has diverse academic interests including Anthropology of Media and Arts, Visual and DigitalCulture and Social Media Studies, Applied Anthropology.

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