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APP53-13 LAHORE: September 13 - Labourers busy in knitting the traditional iron bed (Charpai) for the customers on the banks of canal. APP photo by Mustafa Lashari

APP53-13
LAHORE: September 13 – Labourers busy in knitting the traditional iron bed (Charpai) for the customers on the banks of canal. APP photo by Mustafa Lashari

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Charpai literally means four legs—- char means four and pai means legs.
It’s a simple framed structure held together by the four vertical wooden parts and four horizontal parts by a simple ten on- mort ice joint.

It is a traditional wooden bed; consisting of a wooden frame bordering a set of knotted ropes. It is commonly used in the  subcontinent. In Punjabi and Saraiki languages, it is called a Manjaa or Manji and in Sindhi and Saraiki it is called a KhattKhatt

It is an object that is economical, friendly, simple and easy to carry and very suitable in a tropical country like Pakistan.

The gap that’s formed of this frame work is filled with the weave. The weave is mostly of coir & is easily available in Pakistani local market. But now-a-days metal and plastic versions are also accessible.
There are people specialized in this job. They buy the frame components and the rope from the market, come to your home with their own kit of tools required for the job and assemble it. The weave holds the frame together. Charpai is a culture in itself
Most of my memories of charpai are from the villages I have lived with my husband being in armed forces.  He was transferred to different places from urban to rural areas so en enjoyed all seasons, places and beautiful colors of life of my homeland.

The earliest memory goes back to my childhood days.  We had many charpoys in our home. When the charpai is new, the weave is tight. Because of its tightness we loved to jump over it like a trampoline and whenever our feet got stuck in the weave, it bruised, since the coir was new and rough hence we moaned.  If it gets loosened it is easy to tighten it again. it is good for health too as air passes through the holes and sweat doesn’t damages our skin

In summers especially charpoys were set in courtyard for each family member to enjoy fresh cool air at night. I loved to lay on it and count the stars. It was so peaceful, just lying down on it to feel the cool breeze passing and caressing the back under the charpai without any bed sheet spread on it.
Now, it’s moving from the villages to the urban areas. These can be seen at various theme restaurants.  Some people like to bring in the basics from their roots into the new lifestyle. When elite class uses anything it becomes fashion and its cost goes high too. So it’s gaining popularity and position in modern era also.

This piece of furniture inspired the London based designer couple Doshi and Levien to design a range of contemporary charpoys.

Photos will show how charpoys are used at different places

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