Culture may be defined as behavior peculiar to human beings, together with material objects used. Culture consists of language, ideas, beliefs, customs, codes, institutions, tools, techniques, works of arts, ceremonies, and so on.
E.B. Taylor defines culture as
The complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.
According to Allama Iqbal
Culture encompasses all the mental, spiritual and physical activities of a nation. It includes the basic beliefs and faith, values and literature, art and architecture, music and mode of dress, manners, and customs prevalent in a given society.
Pakistani Culture is an Islamic Culture
Pakistan is an ideological Islamic State. Its very existence is due to Islam, so the Pakistani culture is primarily based on the Islamic way of life. All other ingredients of culture are inspired by Islam. Pakistani culture is highlighted by its grandeur, simplicity, firm convictions, and noble deeds and ideas.
Pakistan has been the cradle of civilization that dates back more than five Millenium. Over the centuries, through successive waves of migrations from the North – West, as well as by internal migrations across the Sub Continent, Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Arabs and Mughals came and settled in the region and have left behind the archaeological sites in Pakistan which is now being preserved. A brief review of the different civilizations which flourished and then perished with the passage of time is as under:
Moen-jo-Daro is situated at a distance of some kilometers from Larkana. A civilization flourished there some 4000 years ago. It was discovered by Sir John Marshall in 1922. Moen-jo-Daro stands as the most spectacular of all the excavated cities of the Indus Valley civilization. It is strange that at its glory, it was a beautiful city with brick-walled houses, pillared halls, markets, baths, lanes, streets, and public places. Every house had walls, drains, and bathrooms inside it.
Harappa is situated in the city of Sahiwal. Scientists and archaeologists believe that Harappa also belongs to the Indus Valley Civilization. Remains of this city were excavated in 1920.
It is comparatively a new civilization, the regions comprising Northern Punjab, Peshawar valley and Eastern Afghanistan was known as Gandhara. For a long time, it remained the meeting place of various ancient cultures, as it was ruled by many rulers. A distinctive art which is known as Gandhara Art took place from here and flourished during the 2nd and 3rd centuries of the Christian era. Thousands monasteries and stupas were widely here Buddha’s figures, shapes, and monasteries all made prominent features of Gandhara Arts.
4. Buddhist Remains
The Buddhist era ushered in some 500 years B.C. The Buddhist monastery Takht-I-Bahi is in N.W.F.P, it dates 2-5 century old. Some mounds were also found near Peshawar which represents Kanishka’s mighty Pakistan. An impressive complex of Chapels, Stupas, quadrangles, and monk’s cells are also found. The great Buddhist civilization is now forming the heritage of the present Pakistan Culture.
It was excavated in recent times near Rawalpindi. Taxila is the most popular name in history. It came into prominence during the Persian occupation. At its zenith, the city was the nucleus of religious and cultural activities.
The main town of Thatta is famous for specimens of Indo-Muslim architecture in the Sub Continent. Notable among them is the great mosque built by Shah-Jahan. The principal monuments of Thatta are located on Makli Hill.
1. Lahore Fort
It is also known as the Shahi Qila. It was built by Akbar. The main structures inside the fort are the Moti Masjid, Diwan-e-Aam, Maktab Khana, the Shish Mahal and Nawlakha. The Hathi and Alamgir gates are also remarkable constructions.
2. Badshahi Masjid
It was built by Aurangzeb. Its architecture is similar to the Jamia Masjid Delhi. The masjid has been built with red stones while the domes are in marble.
3. Jahangir Tomb
This tomb was built by Shah Jahan. It is known as a fine building of Lahore.
4. Shalimar Garden
It is situated on the Grand Trunk Road and is a magnificent remnant of Mughal Grandeur. The garden constitutes of three terraces, one above the other. Besides, there is an elaborate and beautiful reservoir, water channels and fountains.
5. Masjid Wazir Khan
It is situated in Kashmir Bazaar inside the walls of the old city. It was built by Nawab Wazir Khan who was a viceroy of Punjab under Shah Jahan.
6. Golden Masjid
It is situated near Masjid Wazir Khan. It was built during the rule of Mohammad Shah and it is also a very beautiful piece of architecture.
7. Mahabat Khan Masjid
This masjid was built by a Governor of Peshawar, Mahabat Khan, during Shah Jahan’s reign. It has a fine massive structure with lofty minarets.
8. The Fort of Bala Hisar
This fort was built on raised platform 92 feet from the ground level. There are two gardens near the fort.
Heritage in Fine Arts
Muslims brought with them the artistic traditions of Baghdad when they came to South Asia. In the beginning, the walls and roofs of palaces and other buildings were decorated with pictorial and floral designs. Gradually paintings gained firm ground.
Mughal emperors were fond of paintings. Humayun brought with him two Persian painters, Mir Syed Tabrizi and Khawaja Abdul Samad. They adorned the story of Amir Hamza was pictorially rendered through paintings by these luminaries. During the days of Akbar, the number of painters in the court increased manifold. This helped patronize the art of paintings. The matching of colors reached its zenith. The painters rendered pictorial copies of many a book and their fine paintings decorated a number of important public buildings.
Jahangir was a great connoisseur and admirer of this art. He could name the painter by looking at his painting. During his days the art of painting reached its climax. Beautiful plants, flowers, animals, birds, and natural scenes were painted. The paintings of battle scenes, sieges, and animal fights were painted with realism and unparalleled attraction.
The art of painting has developed slowly in the Muslim of South Asia. In the beginning, decorative paintings and embroidery were made on the walls and ceilings of buildings. The Mughal rulers were very fond of paintings. The traditional art of painting occupies a prominent place in the hearts of the people of Pakistan. Abdul Rehman Ghugtai, Haji Mohammad Sharif, Jamil Nagshare are the most distinguished painters.
The Muslims took a keen interest in the promotion of calligraphy. Its main reason is their deep love for the Holy Quran. In the South Asian Muslim Society to be educated and a civilized person had to know the art of calligraphy. During this period various patterns of calligraphy were developed. Calligraphy was not confined to paper only but it got its way even on the buildings. The Masjids constructed during early and medieval periods of Islam were decorated with masterpieces of calligraphy. Aurangzeb Alamgir was the last powerful Mughal ruler who practiced the art of calligraphy.
3. Architecture and Sculpture
The architecture reflects the natural inclination and taste of people. The Muslim art of architecture was unique in every aspect. The architecture and all the miniature arts including carving, sculpture, mosaic works, tile works, and paintings were called upon to build new Masjids and palaces. The Muslim buildings are spacious broad, wide, well proportioned, and well exposed to light. Muslims introduced perpendicular design in their buildings and the upper portion of Muslim buildings is never a mere straight line. It is often traversed by balconies, domes, and minarets.
In the development of Pakistani society, its cultural heritage has played a vital role. The Pakistani nation is justly proud of the historical period which brings with nearly 4th century B.C and continued with the advent of Islam in the Sub Continent in 8th century A.D.
Our cultural heritage expresses courage, patience, and hard life. They all are in connection with life which is a fundamental part of Islamic teachings
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