Pakistan’s Bushra Waqas Khan is a miniature dressmaker who is making a name for herself globally. The printmaker has been featured on popular platforms including Vogue and has even been featured at the Indian Art Fair.
Based in Lahore, Khan has impeccable skills and craftsmanship, her specialities are miniature dresses. Moreover, the one thing that sets her apart from other artists is her unique approach that breathes new life into old state documents such as affidavit stamps that are usually circulated around in a courtroom.
This paper is used for all official documents in Pakistan: birth, death, marriage, divorce, property etc. It means authority and ownership and presents an elaborate decoration. Generally, the paper header design includes national emblems of Pakistan such as the chaand tara (star and crescent moon), among generic floral motifs and Arabic ornaments. The monetary value is written in English and Urdu, and the decorative elements are never perfectly symmetrical making it difficult to forge the paper.
She explained to Vogue, “That piece of paper held more value than who you are in Pakistan, it’s a proof of possession and our lives are all linked to it somehow.” She added: “While mothers bequeath their heirloom jewellery and clothes to their daughters, fathers give this piece of paper to their male heirs.”
“If you look at the motifs on the stamp paper, they do not seem to be from this region. Remove the star and the crescent emblems, remove the ‘Pakistan’ text written on it, and everything else is Western,” she said. “Similarly, the garments are a fusion of cultures. They represent a blend of who we are.”
She uses such materials to create hand-stitched, sculptured gowns that are appreciated worldwide. Furthermore, each of her dresses has political symbolism associated with them. From the flared skirts to the cinched waistline, everything she does represents the female body and colonialism.
Bushra Waqas Kha, a graduate of the National College of Arts (NCA), debuted her first miniature dress in 2019, with the artist has had the honour of being a finalist for the Jameel Prize, organised by London’s Victoria & Albert Museum in collaboration with Art Jameel.
One of her pieces, a gorgeous 20-inch hybrid gown, boasting European gigot sleeves and a pleated Mughal jama with a salmon-pink hem—was recently exhibited at the V&A.
What do you think of her vision of promoting feminism and her thoughts on the political system? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
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