How we started

In July 2017 Namyr- a sustainable e-commerce enterprise was founded by a cultural entrepreneur Zahra Amber. An ethical fashion platform under which the artisans from the local community could develop and trade high-fashion organic handmade products. Namyr not only provide the online market place for the locals to sell their products but also promotes and preserve the culture and historical essentials of the artifacts in more ethical and exclusive way.

In the autumn of 2016, a design consultancy took Zahra to a community in the northern hemisphere of Pakistan where she was captivated by the immense heritage of aboriginal talent of people. Despite living in Pakistan for most part of her life, she was struck by the raw talent of the people of this region. This region is called Kalash, which is more known for its beauty and less for the extraordinary inventive natives. Three of the Kalash valleys—Bumborate, Rumbur and Birir—are located to the south-western tip of district Chitral on the border of Nuristan valley of Afghanistan at a distance of 46 kilometer and 2 hours’ drive from Chitral town.  The origin of the indigenous Kalash communities is shrouded in mystery. There are three parallel theories surrounding their origin: Some say the Kalash are descendants of the soldiers of Alexander the Great; other say they are indigenous to Asia and came from what is now the Nuristan area of Afghanistan and still other say the Kalash ancestors migrated to Afghanistan from a distance place in South Asia. Whatever might be the origin of the Kalash communities, it is an established fact that they have unique and colorful culture of their own. Their way of life, dresses, cuisines, religious festival, rituals, worships and folk songs are entirely different from that of their Muslim neighbors.

The inhabitants of this region have culture and tradition, which have long lasting history which is older than 300 BC. Despite their vivid and unique culture, this community lives in morbid clusters, deprived of basic amenities and denied basic human rights. The indigenous Kalash culture is potentially threatened with extinction. Being traditionally vulnerable, they compromise on their own cultural identity and assimilate into Muslim culture. Presently the total population of the Kalash community is estimated at 3400. Kalash communities, in general, and women, in particular, have hardly received their share in the growing trend of economic development largely because they don’t have social standing, which limits their access to career opportunities the way members of other communities in Pakistan do. Seeing the potential in people of this region her stay lasted beyond the duration of consultancy. She got an opportunity to revive the indigenous techniques of back strap weaving on modernistic forecast by using organic material (wool and colors). Working with these adroit women made her realize that the need of this community is more than just training. They need an outlet to access mainstream markets and generate an income, which can provide them better living.The unique pieces of artifacts they created elated her so much that she felt they should be available to people outside the valley. Thus, she initiated Namyr. Namyr’s objective is ‘’maximizing the benefits to people and communities whilst minimizing impact on the environment’’. Our products are Eco-friendly so every purchase is contributing to fare trade mission. This project is addressing social issues as poverty, unemployment, women empowerment, inclusivity, and environment

Back-Strap Weaving

Weaving textiles on back-strap loom is an ancient practice in Kalash. The yarn used for making woven textiles was originally sheep wool. Which is now replaced by acrylic thread in recent years.

Namyr revived the indigenous techniques of making organic yarn by using sheep wool and natural ingredients for extracting colors.This is cost effective and Eco friendly process.

Organic Wool

From the pastures to the finished product, to help you gain a better understanding of the wool we use to make our organic home textiles following steps are involved. Around mid May Kalasha men took sheep to high pastures (traditional herding) until mid October. Hence sheep are sheared in the spring time and the fleece is recovered. Shearing in the spring allows the sheep to begin growing their wool in time to have a full coat by winter. Shearing is done with use of hand-shears. The fleece is removed in one piece by male experts in community. The wool is cleaned. At this point the fleece is full of lanolin and often contains extraneous vegetable matter, such as sticks, twigs, burrs and straw. Lanolin is removed by soaking the fleece in very hot water. It is possible to spin directly from a clean fleece, but it is much easier to spin a carded fleece.

Spinning

Hand spinning is done by using a spindle (taraku). Spinning turns the carded wool fibers into yarn.

Organic Dyes

Thread is naturally colored by using different resources like walnuts, pomegranate, turmeric, hina etc and set in sun to get dry.

Skeininig

The winding of thread on a rotating reel in a reciprocating manner so as to form a skein of uniform thickness.

Process

Thread is set on a weaving tool called ‘trun’ in Kalasha to create textile surfaces.

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