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© Camille Delbos. Local man rolling lenght of woven Chitrali shu after drying.

Chitrali Shu

© Camille Delbos. Local man rolling lenght of woven Chitrali shu after drying.

The mountainous region of Chitral in northern Pakistan is home to a pure woollen fabric called 'shu' or 'patti'. This project will document this living tradition through film and interviews.

Last updated: 12 January 2023

About the project

We are hosting a 2-year project to document the endangered practice of making shu, a handwoven woollen fabric, characteristic of the Chitral region in northern Pakistan.

The mountainous region of Chitral in northern Pakistan connects Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Xinjiang in northwest China. It is home to a climate-adapted and windproof pure woollen fabric, called shu in the local Khowar language and patti in Urdu. The knowledge and skills of making shu is a renowned heritage of the people of Chitral who turn this famous hand-woven textile into warm clothing for themselves and trade it across borders. The knowledge, skills and social rituals related to the making of shu are endangered due to changes in the climate, an ageing population in the villages and the lack of interest in craft skills from younger generations. This project will document key technical and cultural aspects of this process as it is still carried out and lived by a few families in Chitral through film and interviews.

The project is funded by the Endangered Material Knowledge Programme (EMKP), a grant programme established at the British Museum with support from Arcadia. Responding to momentous changes, this project, led by an independent Scottish-Pakistani researcher in collaboration with the Chitrali women’s cooperative Kho and Kalashi and a Pakistani woman videographer, will preserve the knowledge of making shu for the benefit of the local Chitrali community. The documentation will finally be made publicly accessible in the EMKP’s online archive.

Project details

Project title

Documenting endangered knowledge of making Chitrali shu (handwoven woollen cloth) in Chitral, northwest Pakistan

Project active

1 December 2022 – 30 November 2024

Research theme

Identities and Cultural Contacts, Sustainability

Strategic priorities

Reaching out to people across Scotland and the world; Taking action on climate change and environmental impact.

Adil Iqbal, project investigator, cultural practitioner, Scotland & Pakistan

Feroza Gulzar, videographer, Pakistan

Mansura Shams, collaborator, founder of women's cooperative Kho & Kalashi, Chitral, Pakistan

Friederike Voigt, project host, National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh

Watch “Kasb-e-Hunar (Skilled Enclave)”, a 2016 short film by Adil Iqbal.

Fig. 10 Khushtan Spinning Wool, Royee

Read Adil Iqbal's blog from the 2022 field trip

In December 2022, project lead Adil Iqbal and his team went on their first field trip to the valley of Garam Chashma in Chitral, northwest Pakistan, to document the preparation of wool for the weaving of the renowned Chitrali shu fabric. In this blog post, Adil reflects on the two weeks the team spent in Garam Chashma, meeting individual makers and understanding the ways of life inherent to the creation of Chitrali shu.

Read the blog post

Teased and carded wool. © Camille Delbos

Finished bale of Chitrali shu. © Camille Delbos

Tailor stitching a traditional Chitrali shu coat. © Camille Delbos

Local man wearing traditional Chitrali chogha, a woollen overcoat. © Camille Delbos


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