Crafts in Architecture

Crafts in Architecture

The naqqash knows no limit to his choice of design or colour. Broadly the designs are divided into four categories: floral (gulkari), geometrical (chitsali), calligraphic (khattati), and painting from life or nature (musawwari). Quite often the design and the colour scheme is the combined work of the moulder and the painter: the former divides the surface into rectangular or polygonal frames and the latter fills these frames with the desired designs.

In recent years the crafts of moulded pottery and kamangari have been fused together to produce painted vases, flowerpots and wall-plates. They are made of plaster of paris in a large variety of shapes and display a wide range of motifs, from the traditional floral patterns to European designs and legends, painted in different colours. In simpler models the painting is done on plain surface but many artisans apply the colours on patterns in relief.

Manbat is an Arabic word. It has two meanings: A place where plants grow; and also a place for ornamental work done in relief, i.e. embossed. Stucco is a term used for a fine plaster. This plaster is composed either of (1) fine sand, powdered marble, and gypsum mixed with water or, as in South Asia, white lime cream, surkhi (powdered brick) and fine grimixed with water. The first formula is more effective and affords quick working and results in a better uniform and glossy surface.

In the world famous and noblest work of the fine minute stucco tracery at the Alhamra (1334-91 AD) in Spain the gypsum formula was used which in the course of time takes an Ivory colour. In South Asia, Stucco was known as early as the first century A.D. As is evident from the Stucco Tracery discovered from the Apcidal Temple (1st Century AD) at Sirkap at Taxila, but the work of stucco tracery in the sense we use now was not practiced here before the Muslim rule in India.

This very impressive, charming and durable decorative work took its origin in its broader form during the Achae BC. However in its minute form it became the chief decorative feature in the monuments of the safavid period 1602-1722 AD in Iran from where it was projected to Lahore in the early 17th century AD. It is worked with small pieces cut to the desired shape from enamelled tiles of various vivid colours and then joined to form different floral, geometrical, calligraphic and figural forms in one plane. However, at Lahore it surpassed even the scope of Iranian work. The most graphic and realistic representations showing flora, fauna, animal, portraiture are to be seen at the North and West wall 1st half of 17th century AD of the Lahore Fort. Floral motifs, plant life and calligraphic decoration in the mosque of Wazir Khan in Lahore 1634-35 AD are specimens of unsurpassed beauty, skill and workmanship of this craft in Pakistan.

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