Calligraphy

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Like architecture and literature there was a great progress in other fields such as painting, calligraphy and book production etc. The art of miniature painting was introduced in Pakistan by the Mughals when emperor Humayun brought alongwith him Mir Sayyid Ali and Abd-al-Samad, the two painters of the Persian court of Shah Tahmasp I. Under Akbar the Great (1556-1605), they were asked to train a number of Indo-Muslim and Hindu artists. The result was that the Persian delicacy of detail and linear grace combined with the characteristics Indian palette of varied green, glowing reds, oranges and the fusion into a single style of the indigenous taste for scenery and figures produced a number of remarkable manuscripts and album paintings.

The arts of Calligraphy and Manuscripts also flourished. In the beginning of the Muslim era, the Arabic script was written in “Kufic” characters. It had three distinctive styles: a rounded cursive, elongated uprights, and rectilinear connectives. It was the script of the Caliphate and was used for writing the Holy Quran upto tenth century and for other inscriptions until the 15th century. “Naskh”, a rounded script of rather level ductus, was the characteristic writing of the Seljuq period and since then it has been in use with a variety of decorative styles. “Nastaliq” is the most completely Persian of the forms with drooping ductus, strongly repetitive curvature and almost complete elimination of straight lines. It evolved gradually in the late 14th century and has been used mostly in the writing of Persian works. Before the introduction of printing techniques, all the literary and other works were handwritten and great interest was taken in calligraphy. But with the extraordinary attention the Muslims turned calligraphy into an art. Emperor Aurangzeb himself was an excellent scribe and the specimens of the Holy Quran transcribed by him are well known. The manuscript copy of “Diwan Prince Dara Shikoh”, which is preserved in the National Museum is an excellent piece of calligraphy.

The illumination of manuscripts was also developed side by side with calligraphy in all the Muslim countries. At first, the illuminations were largely in gold with tricks of brown red, blue and green. But in the 14th and early 15th centuries delicate black or black and gold drawings in margins assumed a characteristic minute scale. Pink, violet, orange and blue greens were added in the later period. The manuscripts and rich miniature books were generally bound in leather, the edges being protected by a flap. The normal decoration of stamping with beaded edges, medallions in the centre and unobtrusive script in the corners lasted upto the 15th century. In the later periods it was replaced by opulent stamped gilding with arabesques and decorative figure groups and occasionally lacquer work in the Chinese manner.

Some-other minor arts of the Muslim culture in Pakistan are also of great beauty and interest. The carved wooden doors, panels, furnishings, lacquer work on pen boxes with exquisite floral decoration, astrolabes, gold inlaid steel weapons and implements, embroidered garments, carpets & gold jewellery are only a few of the many examples which were patronized by the Muslims. Decline of the Muslim might accelerated by the end of the eighteenth century and after the death of emperor Aurangzeb in 1707 A.D. the prestige of the Mughal rule was seriously undermined by a chain of several unfortunate events such as:-

Sacking of Delhi by Nadir Shah in 1739 A.D; the loss of Afghanistan in the north west and the rise of the Marhattas in the south west of the sub-continent. In a number of provinces the governors of the Mughal emperor, Nawabs and Subedars, such an unfavourable situation promoted further the growing state of chaos and confusion. So the process of disintegration set in.

Successors of Aurangzeb proved themselves as nincompoops and failed to manage the state affairs. The Muslim Empire thus fell apart within a few years after emperor Aurangzeb’s death. The Afghan invaders hammered in the final nail in the coffin of the empire. They invaded the sub-continent several times and finally sold the Punjab to Ranjit Singh, a Sikh Sardar, who immediately after the return of the Afghans tried to expand his empire. Ranjit Singh ruled the country for about forty years (1798-1839) but he spent most of his time in establishing sikh supermacy. He died on June 27, 1839 A.D. and within a few years, after his death, there were many family feuds and killings. The British took advantage of the situation and captured the Punjab in 1846 A.D. They had already annexed Sindh during 1843 A.D. The Muslim power and with it the Islamic culture as a whole were subjected to great attrocities through out the Sikh as well as the British rules which are spread over a century. Some how or the other the British always prefered the Hindus in whom they found good boot-lickers and the Muslims were crushed politically, economically and socially.

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