When Pakistani Muslim Farah Malik met Libyan Jew Dana Arbi after gatecrashing a wedding, she had no idea they would be redefining global diplomatic relations by designing jewellery. “I had been watching how trade restrictions, competition with Chinese manufacturing and political turmoil had destroyed small businesses and cottage industry. So the first country where we set up projects was Pakistan,” says Malik, whose A Peace Treaty brand now also collaborates with Indian artisans, creating modern takes on traditional ornaments like matriarchal women’s protective amulets, talismans and piercings. The collection is now coming to the city, and will be showcased at Bungalow 8, Colaba.
She reveals, “We produce our jewellery there and have worked on a project which aimed to resuscitate camel bone carving.” The duo also found old tribal families in Rajasthan’s Thar desert who still had knowledge of ancient horn and bone-carving techniques, which were abandoned after resin and plastic took over the market. “I am familiar with the Thar desert from the other side of the border as I lived in Pakistan as young girl,” Malik recalls. “We would often drive through the border area. The desert gypsy traditions of both countries are the same, but sadly, the national boundary makes it seem like two different worlds.”
Malik admits her Pakistani heritage actually encouraged her to cross borders to work with “an old foe.” She adds, “The irony is that while this project was a pact in my mind, I’m not being granted a visa to return. So I have had to hire others to conduct my production work.”
The duo also have a line of scarves with obvious Indian influences. “We work with blockprinting, indigo dye, screenprinting, hand-weaving and looming NGOs and family-based businesses,” says Malik. “Our scarves are handmade, reviving at-risk or under-appreciated textile techniques. They’re all heirlooms.”
Collection available from April 20- 23. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The ladies at A Peace Treaty, whose production spans over seven countries, list the top jewellery items every woman must have in her treasure chest.
1,2. Architectural long chandelier earrings that show off a slim neck.
3. A Peace Treaty’s signature single ear cuff earring, a dialled down version of traditional Indian wedding jewellery.
4. An oversize cocktail ring which will help start a conversation anywhere.
5. A protective amulet necklace, a throwback to ancient Indian matriarchal societies.