CULTURAL ROOTS OF ART AND ARCHITECTURE
OF THE PUNJAB
The Indus Valley, our home, has a living history since the end of the last Ice Age and the beginning of Human Civilization. As the Ice receded and the Earth warmed, about 20,000 years ago, pockets of varying climates were generated wherein humans had to congregate around water sources, usually rivers, and evolve a new social contract to guide their continued survival. The successful experiment of harnessing of natural resources of land, water and fire, through agriculture, attracted other people living in more harsh pockets and the population swelled. Similar instances of people living together creating their own social contracts were generated in China, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Central America.
The Indian Sub-Continent at the time, 10-15,000 years ago, comprised three distinct regions i.e., (a) the very large and dense mass of forests covering Ganga Jumna valley into which poured the Brahmaputra from the east and then drained into the Bay of Bengal; (b) the Deccan, drier than the Ganjetic Valley, heavily forested cut up into series of valleys watered by the Narmada, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri rivers with only the coastal strips along the two sides of the peninsula that continued around to the island of Sri Lanka, having ocean-trade-based cultures of sizeable population; and (c) the western region, the Indus Valley, comprising two main rivers, Indus and the Hakra, running parallel with a number of tributaries in the north. The Indus Valley drying faster than the rest fostered the earliest large scale agglomerations to give rise to a unique civilization. Another such area was generated around the River Helmand in the present day Afghanistan which for many centuries was a bridge between the Indus and Mesopotamian centers of culture. In Persia, at the period there developed a number of fertile valleys housing people with their own distinct culture.
The Indus Valley attracted vast numbers from all directions who mostly came to settle, avoiding any large scale violence and found enough room and resources to flourish and develop. The Aryans, a people of the Central Asia, escaping the more rapidly drying regions, migrated to India, Iran, and Europe. In India, having settled in the Punjab for a few centuries, they led the march into the Ganga-Jumna valley using fire to clear the forest to create arable land. They also gave birth to social organizations to better exploit the difficult environment which over centuries congealed into the Caste System. The word Punjab ( a Persian word meaning Five Rivers) came into use during the Medieval Period to denote the northern regions of the Indus Valley comprising the areas watered by Upper Indus, Kabul, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, and Bias, accurately described in the Rig Veda as the Sapta-Sindhu(seven rivers).
Comparatively speaking, the Punjab was rich in terms of agriculture produce and cattle, and therefore also attracted invaders and violence. The earliest invaders came from the relatively drier lands of the west, present day Persia, Afghanistan, Central Asia, followed by the Greeks who retreated in face of resistance. The Punjab stopped being the perennial host and began to resist the new comers. That was a major change. Henceforth, the Punjab became a battle ground, yet allowing merchants and travelers in and out of India. They also found time to sing, laugh, read and write to develop a cultural identity of their own.
The Punjab has been indeed the melting pot of people and ideas. The native culture was influenced, modified, and developed as a continuous and a linked phenomenon. The Persians, Greeks, Arabs, Sufis, Turks, Afghans, Kashmiris, Brahmins, Rajputs, and merchants of Gujrat and Deccan, contributed to the social ethos of the Punjab. Thus a synthesis of the foreign and local traditions of cultures, started centuries ago has continued to influence, modify and develop the indigenous society of the Punjab. Colonization by the British changed the continuum in a profound manner to leave us as we are today.
The big question therefore is What are we then? What are the Cultural Roots of our Art and Architecture?
Inauguration Session: (From left to right) Hon. Secretary THAAP, Ar. Amna Jahangir addressing the audience; CEO THAAP, Prof. Sajida Vandal, Chief Guest, Engr. Syed Imtiaz Hussain Gilani, Chairperson, HEC and Guest of Honor, Prof. Irshad Burney.
Session 1 chaired by Prof. Sajida Vandal. Speakers: (from left to right) Prof. Pervaiz Vandal, Prof. Syed Faisal Sajjad, Prof. Sajida Vandal (Session Chair) and Prof. Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed.
Session 2 chaired by Prof. Dr. Rahat Masud. Speakers: (from left to right) Ar. Zahrah Ashraf at the dice, Prof. Dr. Neelam Naz, Prof. Dr. Rahat Masud (Session Chair) and Ms. Aiman Chugtai.
Session 3 chaired by Prof. Dr. Nadhra S. Naeem Khan. Speakers: (from left to right) Ms. Fakhra Hassan, Prof. Dr. Nadhra S. Naeem Khan (Session Chair) and Ms. Sadia Kamran.
Inauguration of an art exhibition titled “Cultural Roots of Art and Architecture of the Punjab” at Gallery 39K.
Session 4 chaired by Prof. Maliha Azami Aga. Speakers: (from left to right) Ms. Aisha Imdad, Prof. Maliha Azami Aga (Session Chair) and Ms. Eesha Thakur.
Session 5 chaired by Prof. Dr. Rukhsana David. Speakers: (from left to right) Mr. Abdullah Qureshi, Ar. Bazla Mansoor, Prof. Dr. Rukhsana David (Session Chair), Eng. Aqsa Yasin and Prof. Dr. Tariq Rahman.
Session 6 chaired by Prof. Dr. Ali Akbar Hussain. Speakers: (from left to right) Mr. Osama Ahmad, Ar. Taimoor Khan Mumtaz, Prof. Dr. Ali Akbar Hussain (Session Chair) and Dr.. Mamoona Khan.
Session 7 chaired by Prof. Dr. Neelam Naz. Speakers: Prof. Samra Mohsin Khan (left) and Dr. Kanwal Khalid (right).
Exhibition of works at Anna Molka Gallery, College of Art and Design, Punjab University, Lahore.
Musical performance, College of Art and Design, Punjab University, Lahore
Session 8 chaired by Prof. Irshad Burney. Speakers: Prof. Dr. Ali Akbar Hussain (left) and Prof. Rajmohan Gandhi (right)
Session 9 chaired by Prof. Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed. Speakers: Ms. Beenish Tahir (left) and Dr. Amit Ranjan (right)
Session 10 chaired by Prof. Dr. Gulzar Haider. Speakers: Ms. Sahar Saqlain (left) and Dr. Zahra Taraneh Yalda (right)
Session 11 chaired by Prof. Rajmohan Gandhi. Speakers: Ar. Ali Arsalan Pasha (left) and Mr. Husain Abdul Rehman Qazi (right)
Exhibition of works at School of Architecture and Planning, UET Lahore.
Visit to University of Gujrat.
Visit to Ram Piyari Mahal, Gujrat.
Visit to Suman Burj - Residence of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780 - 1839), Wazirabad.
Musical program at National College of Arts, Lahore.
Visit to Harappa. Ravi Jhumar by Punjab Lok Rahs.
Visit to Harappa Museum, Sahiwal, which included a briefing on Harappa land issues by Punjab Lok Sujag.
Closing Session. (from left to right) CEO THAAP Prof. Sajida Vandal; Chief Guest Prof. Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Executive Director, HEC, Pakistan and Prof. Dr. Mohammad Nizamuddin, VC, UoG, Gujrat.
Musical Program at closing dinner.
FOURTH INTERNATIONAL THAAP CONFERENCE 2013
People’s History of Pakistan
Held on Dec 06-10, 2013 at 43-G, Gulberg-III, Lahore & University of Gujrat, Pakistan
The peer-reviewed research journal ‘Cultural Roots of Art & Architecture of the Punjab’ was published in Nov 2014. Prof. Pervaiz Vandal is the Editor.
Fourth International THAAP Conference was held in collaboration with HEC, University of Gujrat and THAAP in which scholars from Iran, India, Sweden, U.K., U.S.A. and Pakistan presented their papers.
A 5 day conference with supporting events was held as follows:
- Art Exhibition at Gallery 39K, Lahore and Dinner.
- Faculty Art Exhibition at College of Art & Design, University of the Punjab, Lahore with exhibition opening by Vice Chancellor, University of the Punjab, Musical Evening and Dinner.
- Students Exhibition at Department of Architecture, University of Engineering & Technology, Lahore and a Dinner.
- City visits to Gujrat and Wazirabad on 4th Day with talks and Lunch at University of Gujrat, organised by Vice Chancellor, University of Gujrat.
- Musical Evening and Dinner at NCA Lahore.
- A visit to Archaeological Site of Harappa, with cultural program organised by Punjab Lok Sujag and Punjab Lok Rahs.
Closing Session at 43-G, Gulberg-III, Lahore and Dinner sponsored by JERS Engineering Consultants Lahore.
List of Paper Readers
Culture and River: A Symbiotic Dependence.
2. Prof. Jasleen Dhamija Phulkari & Bagh
The Punjabi Women’s Creativity
Clash vs Common Sense
Head, Guru Ramdas School of Planning, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar
Historic cities as cultural roots and routes for future:
Experience of an Indian walled city Amritsar
PhD / Research student
Department of Museology
Faculty of Fine Arts
The Maharaja Sayajiroa University of Baroda – Vadodara (Gujarat – India)
Ms. Neha Babi
Gujarat, India Interpreting Culture through Museums: What’s Disappearing? What’s Evolving? What’s to come?
6. Dr. Taranah Yalda
Panjabi and Irani Arts and Crafts: Shared Origins for Similar Life Styles in the Same Region of the Eastern World
Who are Punjabis and what is Punjabiyat?
8. Prof. Dr. Rafique Mughal
Professor (South Asian Archaeology & International Heritage Management and Preservation), Boston University, Department of Archaeology
Boston The Origins of the Harappan Civilization: New Evidence from Bahawalpur, Punjab
Artist/Associate Professor, CIIT Islamabad The Roots of Decorative Motifs of Cholistani Crafts: An Analytical Study
10. Ms. Beenish Tahir
Textile Design Department, College of Art and Design, Punjab University. Lahore Tentage in Lahore: Continuation of Mughal Tradition
Thaap, Lahore Debunking the Third World Woman and Reviving the Indigenous Feminists: A Transnational Feminist Discourse on the intricacies and evolution of Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Punjab – past, present and the hereafter
12. Dr. Ghafer Shahzad
Stupa vs Sufi Shrine: Legacies of the Buddhist Architecture in Punjab
13. Mr. Husain Abdul Rehman Qazi
The Grand Trunk Road in Punjab
City of Lahore and Its Cultural Roots during Ghaznavide Period
15. Ms. Mamoona Khan
Head, Department of Fine Arts,
GPGCW, S'Town Rawalpindi Ashlars Masonry in Puthūhār, and the British Rāj: A Study of the Monumental Edifices
16. Ar. Zahra Ashraf
C & W Dept. Lahore
Prof. Dr. Neelum Naz
Dept. of Architecture, UET, Lahore The Ancient Silk Route: A Cross-Cultural Bridge between Central Asia and Punjab
Visiting Lecturer Kinnaird College & BNU, fellow research centre, Punjab University, Lahore Tracing the Development of Bahawalpuri Kundan
Interior Designer, Lahore An evaluation of timber techniques practiced by the Artisans of Chiniot & Gujrat
Department of Architecture & Design
COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad. Tale of the Bazaars; Impact of Cultural Change on Tangible and Intangible Heritage
20. Prof. Dr. Ali Akbar Husain
IVS Karachi Cultural Attitudes To Nature In Lahore: Pre and Post-Colonial Lawrence Gardens
21. Ar. Bazla Manzoor
Eng. Aqsa Yasin Evolution of Courtyards in Central Punjab
22. Ar. Taimoor Khan Mumtaz
The Sacred Roots of Culture in the Punjab
23. Ms. Aiman Chughtai
Mazaars as Mosaics: An evolution of Islamic Geometric Motifs and their application on the Shrines in Multan
Department of Architecture
National College of Arts, Lahore Public space as a cultural palimpsest
(A case study of Lahore)
Artist The tension between abstraction and representation in Pakistan
Moulding the Red Earth
27. Mr. Osama Ahmed
Punjab’s Architectural Transformations: Indo-Greek Classicism to British Colonial Neo-Classicism