Coming from the famous city of New Delhi, Mehmood Ahmed recites his story centered around the beautiful craft of making sitars. A sitar is a stringed instrument belonging to the lite family, it originated in the Indian subcontinent and is often used in classical, calming pieces. Now residing in the complex Qaiserbagh, Lucknow, Mehmood Ji works at his workshop daily. When he first came to Lucknow, Mehmood Ji learned the art of hand-crafting sitars from multitudes of sources, however, the one that stood out to him the most was the experience he withheld from Allan Saheb and Sons. Majority Mehmood Ji’s knowledge about sitar making was obtained through his experience at Allan Saheb and Sons, where he used to practice making sitars with mentors and ustaads, or, teachers.
Once Mehmood Ji felt confident enough in his work, he decided to open up his own workshop which specialized in just sitars. Since there were only four to five specialized sitar workshops in all of Lucknow, Mehmood Ji believed that it was very important that his workshop produced genuine and beautiful sitars. He achieved this through employing karigaris, or, artisans, who were very skilled in what they did and produced exceptional work. Just one sitar actually requires work by many karigaris, for example, one karigari carves the wood, the other polishes the sitar, the third wraps the sitar in plastic, and so on and so forth. Everything in the Azad Sitar Workshop is done with such precision, with wood coming from Calcutta and Maharashtra, and string materials being locally sourced from Uttar Pradesh. Just making one sitar is actually a 4 month process, sure, one could say this seems rather tedious; however, when you receive a beautiful and euphonious instrument in return, it’s difficult to be upset with the wait time. Considering the sitar is such a soulful and representative instrument of the Indian Subcontinent, it is imperative that artists like Mehmood Ji and his artisans preserve this tradition, to preserve culture.