Taxidermy: The living dead

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Meet the hidden reviver of Pakistan's niche market “ Taxidermy

Karachi based artist Muhammad Daniyal with his stuffed animals | Photos by Areeb Alam


Taxidermy is the art preparing, stuffing & arranging preserving or mounting an animal for display study. A taxidermist is a person who does taxidermy. It usually means arranging an animal skin over a fake body (dummy) to make the animal look alive.



A beautiful taxidermied Peacocks at Daniyal's showcase wall.

 

In order to understand this topic more, we decided to meet one of the finest taxidermists in Karachi “ Muhammad Daniyal. Daniyal is a taxidermist working out of a shop in Saddar, Karachi. The artist told us, "I learned this skill from my father and this has been going on since my grandfather's time which he had started 45 years ago. My passion is inherited from my father and grandfather and hope that I am able to continue this legacy and pass it down to the coming generations as well.

He further defined taxidermy as a method of studying and displaying species in a museum. A way of filling, presenting and organizing an animal for display or study. He also added: œTaxidermy is a very beautiful yet underrated type of art. We bring the dead back to life. You may not consider it but it certainly is. Taxidermy has a unique concept; to mount or stuff and capture the natural beauty of animals. It takes immense skill, patience and great attention to detail.



The eye-catching Golden Pheasant taxidermied at Daniyal's shop


This 21st century artist said that government officials and politicians are big enthusiasts of taxidermy and are his regular clients. One informative thing he shared with us is that œif you have a taxidermied animal for decor, do not clean it with water nor wet wipes for dusting since it damages the skin of the animal. He also mentions that the life of taxidermy animals is about 25 years if handled with proper care. But this can be increased by dusting the skin of the animal every 15 days with either petrol or thinner to brighten and renew the pelt and the colors of said animal.



The highlighted preserved animals of his shop wall reflect his love and passion toward his artwork


The 29-year-old taxidermist shared that œart is something emotional and delicate. I think it's a wonderful art, and a good way to bring life to a deceased animal. I would like to prefer to entails the importance of taxidermy and wildlife art as an academic tool.

œTaxidermists in Pakistan have also attracted a lot of international and foreign clients, the expert expressed his feelings, œA lot of international hunters who travel to Pakistan, hunt Markhor after paying a hefty amount of fees and get it taxidermied just for the purpose of displaying the preserved trophy at their home.



Different types of birds displayed on his shop's shelf.


The third-generation artist further added that œmany people use taxidermy for more intimate reasons such as getting their passed away pets, taxidermied as a sign of memory. He further

walked us through the process of taxidermy and explained that œwe stuff (the animal) with a fiber body but the skin and horns are real. The rest is a dummy made of fiber whether it be a Markhor, Ibex. Deer, Peacock etc. The process takes about 15 to 20 days or even a month depending on how large the animal is or how extensive the detailing is. Many taxidermists use desiccated wood for stuffing but that is not long lasting hence why we use fiber, so that it does not deteriorate at all.



Horns of Markhor, Deer, Ibex and Buffalo on display.


This artist has turned his passion into a fashionable venture - a shoe collection in men's range and bags collection for women. He hunts and stuffs birds, rodents and deer himself, and then fashions them into unique sculptures and apparel. Like a collection of taxidermy-themed footwear, including a pair of "Kheri" (a conventional type of footwear worn mainly by Pashtuns in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region.) Furthermore, he also introduced, lady's bags in different animals' skin which is a very rare and unique idea which differentiates him from the prevailing market competitors.



The taxidermy industry is still a very niche market in Pakistan with a high potential to grow in the future as many people are still unaware of this art form. Thus, the purpose of this article was to briefly educate the people on taxidermy and run them through the work of a renowned taxidermist in Pakistan.


The writer and editor are BBA Student at IQRA UNIVERSITY and can be reached out at the following Gmail:

M. Areeb Alam (AUTHOR)

M. Ilyas Sheikh (Co Author)

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