8 August 2022

Ahmed Rasheed, Master of Woodworking and Lacquer Art

“I have half a lakh worth of products in storage. I don’t sell as much as I used to,” says Ahmed Rasheed from HA. Dhihdhoo, who has been doing woodworking and lacquer art for more than a decade.

Lacquer work is a significant part of Maldivian history, culture and tradition. There’s nothing that translate Maldivian prestige in the olden days like lacquer work does.

Ahmed Rasheed, also known as Ahmedbe, learned lacquer work after joining a course in 2010. Ahmedbe says that he had to try very hard to join the course with three other people his age.

Ahmedbe has been doing lacquer work for 12 years. It takes Ahmedbe one hour to make the vases.

“I will welcome anyone who would be willing to sit down with me and learn.”

Ahmedbe says that lacquer work is not difficult.

“The work is not hard; it just takes dedication to stay here and work on your craft.”

“I have a lot of stock so I do not bother to have wood delivered to the island anymore. I am unable to sell them.”

When asked about why it is hard to sell his products, Ahmedbe says that importing similar items from other countries have lessened the demand for his products. He said that lacquer work requires intricate work which is done by hand. It does not compare to products created with machinery.

“It’s simple. They need to stop importing items like this, we cannot sell lacquer art if they keep importing from other countries.”

He also mentioned that his sales went down during the lockdown and COVID-19.

Ahmedbe calls out to young people to save this dying art. Ahmedbe says that he’s keen to teach people the craft.

“I will welcome anyone who would be willing to sit down with me and learn.”

There are only a few people like him who keep this art alive. It is crucial to establish ways to protect, and also for the government to work harder to market locally made products.

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