The artists who give animals ‘life after death’ in Karachi

It was once a flourishing business in Karachi
Sep 10, 2021
Photo: SAMAA TV
Photo: SAMAA TV

Taxidermy, the art of giving a lifelike effect to dead animals by preparing and stuffing their skins, was once a flourishing business in Karachi. 

“Taxidermy was at its peak during 1974 when Karachi was bustling with foreign tourists,” said Javed, who has been offering his services at Karachi’s Zaibunnisa Street for the last 50 years. His studio is stacked with stuffed parrots, eagles, peacocks, deer and even roosters.

Mongoose and snakes were quite popular among the tourists, Javed said. But as travellers dwindled over the years, taxidermy became a dying art. There used to be 12 studios, of which only two exist today. 

According to the Museum of Idaho, taxidermy can be traced to ancient Egyptians, who used oils, spices and other materials for the preservation of the dead. Early taxidermists mounted animal skins with rags and sawdust. Arsenic, which was later replaced with borax, was used from the 1700s up until the 20th century to repel insects.

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