Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Taxila: The Cradle of Gandhara Art - - Old Civilization in Pakistan (Part-4)

Its ruins, including temples and a fortress, lie just northwest of Rawalpindi. It was the capital of the Buddhist kingdom of Gandhara and a centre of learning. Founded by Bharata, the younger brother of Rama, it came under Persian rule and in 326 bc was surrendered to Alexander the Great. Ruled by a succession of conquerors, including Bactrians and Scythians, the city became an important Buddhist centre under King Ashoka (c. 261 bc). The apostle Thomas reputedly visited it in the 1st century ad. Taxila’s prosperity in ancient times resulted from its position at the junction of three great trade routes. When they declined, the city sank into insignificance; it was finally destroyed by the Huns in the 5th century. Taxila was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980.


Taxila is known from references in Indian and Greco-Roman literary sources and from the accounts of two Chinese Buddhist pilgrims, Faxian and Xuanzang. Literally meaning “City of Cut Stone” or “Rock of Taksha,” Takshashila (rendered by Greek writers as Taxila) was founded, according to the Indian epic Ramayana, by Bharata, younger brother of Rama, an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. The city was named for Bharata’s son Taksha, its first ruler. The great Indian epic Mahabharata was, according to tradition, first recited at Taxila at the great snake sacrifice of King Janamejaya, one of the heroes of the story. Buddhist literature, especially the Jatakas, mentions it as the capital of the kingdom of Gandhara and as a great centre of learning. Gandhara is also mentioned as a satrapy, or province, in the inscriptions of the Achaemenian (Persian) king Darius I in the 5th century bce. Taxila, as the capital of Gandhara, was evidently under Achaemenian rule for more than a century. When Alexander the Great invaded India in 326 bce, Ambhi (Omphis), the ruler of Taxila, surrendered the city and placed his resources at Alexander’s disposal. Greek historians accompanying the Macedonian conqueror described Taxila as “wealthy, prosperous, and well governed.”

Within a decade after Alexander’s death, Taxila was absorbed into the Mauryan empire founded by Chandragupta, under whom it became a provincial capital. However, this was only an interlude in the history of Taxila’s subjection to conquerors from the west. After three generations of Mauryan rule, the city was annexed by the Indo-Greek kingdom of Bactria. It remained under the Indo-Greeks until the early 1st century bce. They were followed by the Shakas, or Scythians, from Central Asia, and by the Parthians, whose rule lasted until the latter half of the 1st century ce.

According to early Christian legend, Taxila was visited by the apostle Thomas during the Parthian period. Another distinguished visitor was the neo-Pythagorean sage Apollonius of Tyana (1st century ce), whose biographer Philostratus described Taxila as a fortified city that was laid out on a symmetrical plan and compared it in size to Nineveh (ancient city of the Assyrian empire).

Taxila was taken from the Parthians by the Kushans under Kujula Kadphises. The great Kushan ruler Kanishka founded Sirsukh, the third city on the site. (The second, Sirkap, dates from the Indo-Greek period.) In the 4th century ce the Sāsānian king Shāpūr II (309–379) seems to have conquered Taxila, as evidenced by the numerous Sāsānian copper coins found there. There is little information about the Sāsānian occupation, but, when Faxian visited the city at about the beginning of the 5th century ce, he found it a flourishing centre of Buddhist sanctuaries and monasteries. Shortly thereafter it was sacked by the Huns; Taxila never recovered from this calamity. Xuanzang, visiting the site in the 7th century ce, found the city ruined and desolate, and subsequent records do not mention it. Excavations begun by Sir Alexander Cunningham, the father of Indian archaeology, in 1863–64 and 1872–73 identified the local site known as Saraikhala with ancient Taxila. This work was continued by Sir John Hubert Marshall, who over a 20-year period completely exposed the ancient site and its monuments.

Mohenjo-Daro Ruins: A Challenge For Archaeologists - - Old Civilization in Pakistan (Part-3)

A well-planned street grid and an elaborate drainage system hint that the occupants of the ancient Indus civilization city of Mohenjo Daro were skilled urban planners with a reverence for the control of water. But just who occupied the ancient city in modern-day Pakistan during the third millennium B.C. remains a puzzle.

"It's pretty faceless," says Indus expert Gregory Possehl of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

The city lacks ostentatious palaces, temples, or monuments. There's no obvious central seat of government or evidence of a king or queen. Modesty, order, and cleanliness were apparently preferred. Pottery and tools of copper and stone were standardized. Seals and weights suggest a system of tightly controlled trade.

The city's wealth and stature is evident in artifacts such as ivory, lapis, carnelian, and gold beads, as well as the baked-brick city structures themselves.

A watertight pool called the Great Bath, perched on top of a mound of dirt and held in place with walls of baked brick, is the closest structure Mohenjo Daro has to a temple. Possehl, a National Geographic grantee, says it suggests an ideology based on cleanliness

Wells were found throughout the city, and nearly every house contained a bathing area and drainage system.

City of Mounds

Archaeologists first visited Mohenjo Daro in 1911. Several excavations occurred in the 1920s through 1931. Small probes took place in the 1930s, and subsequent digs occurred in 1950 and 1964.

The ancient city sits on elevated ground in the modern-day Larkana district of Sindh province in Pakistan.

During its heyday from about 2500 to 1900 B.C. the city was among the most important to the Indus civilization, Possehl says. It spread out over about 250 acres (100 hectares) on a series of mounds, and the Great Bath and an associated large building occupied the tallest mound.

According to University of Wisconsin, Madison, archaeologist Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, also a National Geographic grantee, the mounds grew organically over the centuries as people kept building platforms and walls for their houses.

"Gradually you have a high promontory on which people are living," he says.

With no evidence of kings or queens, Mohenjo Daro was likely governed as a city-state, perhaps by elected officials or elites from each of the mounds.

Prized Artifacts

A miniature bronze statuette of a nude female, known as the dancing girl, was celebrated by archaeologists when it was discovered in 1926, Kenoyer notes.

Of greater interest to him, though, are a few stone sculptures of seated male figures, such as the intricately carved and colored Priest King, so called even though there is no evidence he was a priest or king.

The sculptures were all found broken, Kenoyer says. "Whoever came in at the very end of the Indus period clearly didn't like the people who were representing themselves or their elders," he says.

Just what ended the Indus civilization—and Mohenjo Daro—is also a mystery.

Kenoyer suggests that the Indus River changed course, which would have hampered the local agricultural economy and the city's importance as a center of trade.

But no evidence exists that flooding destroyed the city, and the city wasn't totally abandoned, Kenoyer says. And, Possehl says, a changing river course doesn't explain the collapse of the entire Indus civilization. Throughout the valley, the culture changed, he says.

"It reaches some kind of obvious archaeological fruition about 1900 B.C.," he said. "What drives that, nobody knows."

Lost City Of Mohenjo-Daro - - Old Civilization in Pakistan (Part-2)

The name of Mohenjo-daro is widely recognized as one of the most important early cities of South Asia and the Indus Civilization and yet most publications rarely provide more than a cursory overview of this important site.

There are several different spellings of the site name and in this article we have chosen to use the most common form, Mohenjo-daro (the Mound of Mohen or Mohan), though other spellings are equally valid: Mohanjo-daro (Mound of Mohan =Krishna), Moenjo-daro (Mound of the Dead), Mohenjo-daro, Mohenjodaro or even Mohen-jo-daro. Many publications still state that Mohenjo-daro is located in India (presumably referring to ancient India), but since the creation of Pakistan in 1947, the site has been under the protection of the Department of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Pakistan.

Discovery and Major Excavations

Mohenjo-daro was discovered in 1922 by R. D. Banerji, an officer of the Archaeological Survey of India, two years after major excavations had begun at Harappa, some 590 km to the north. Large-scale excavations were carried out at the site under the direction of John Marshall, K. N. Dikshit, Ernest Mackay, and numerous other directors through the 1930s.

Although the earlier excavations were not conducted using stratigraphic approaches or with the types of recording techniques employed by modern archaeologists they did produce a remarkable amount of information that is still being studied by scholars today.

The last major excavation project at the site was carried out by the late Dr. G. F. Dales in 1964-65, after which excavations were banned due to the problems of conserving the exposed structures from weathering.

Since 1964-65 only salvage excavation, surface surveys and conservation projects have been allowed at the site. Most of these salvage operations and conservation projects have been conducted by Pakistani archaeologists and conservators.

In the 1980s extensive architectural documentation, combined with detailed surface surveys, surface scraping and probing was done by German and Italian survey teams led by Dr. Michael Jansen (RWTH) and Dr. Maurizio Tosi (IsMEO).

Details of the most recent salvage excavations and conservation are found in obscure journals or reports that are not readily available to the public, but are listed in the Bibliography for those interested in searching them out.


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Harappa: Capital of the Indus Civilization - - Old Civilization in Pakistan (Part-1)

Harappa is a large city of the Indus Civilization, and one of the best known sites in Pakistan, located on the bank of the Ravi River in Punjab Province.

This early urban archaeological site was occupied between about 3300 and 1500 BC. Harappa includes an area of about 250 acres, and may be about twice that, given that much of the site has been covered by the flooding of the Ravi. Intact structural remains include those of a citadel, a granary, and two cemeteries. The mud adobe bricks of significant architectural remains were robbed in antiquity.

Harappa Industries

The earliest Indus phase occupation at Harappa is called the Ravi phase (ca 3300-2800 BC, and at that time the site included a small occupation, with the first agate bead-making activities on the site. In a part of the site dated to the Kot Diji phase (2800-2500 BC) was found a piece of pottery with a possible early Indus script marking, and a cubical limestone weight that conforms to the Harappan weight system.

During the Harappa phase (2600-1900 BC), a faience and steatite bead production workshop was identified, by several layers of 'faience slag', chert blades, lumps of sawn steatite, bone tools, terracotta cakes and large masses of vitrified faience slag. Also discovered were abundant broken and complete tablets and beads, many with incised scripts.

Archaeology at Harappa

Harappa was discovered in 1826 and first excavated in 1920 and 1921 by the Archaeological Survey of India, led by Rai Bahadur Daya Ram Sahni, as described later by M.S. Vats. Other archaeologists associated with Harappa include Mortimer Wheeler, George Dales, Richard Meadow, and J. Mark Kenoyer.

Sadqain: A Legendary Artist And Calligrapher - - Untraditional, Self-made And Self-taught Artist

SADQAIN (1930-1986) Sadeqain was an untraditional and self-made, self-taught painter and calligrapher. His forte is his creation of mysterious - almost mystic - environment, which he achieves with his bold, uninhibited use of media, colors and lines.

Sadqain was a prolific artist; he experimented with portraits, sketches, caricatures, book titles and did a lot of Koranic calligraphy, but he seems to be at his best while depicting Ghalib. Whether it is due to his extreme devotion to Ghalib, or his profound interest in Urdu poetry (Sadeqain himself was a fine Urdu poet and published two poetry collections), he seems to be at his artistic best while painting Ghalib.

According to Aslam Kamal, "They say that Deewan e Ghalib is a Revelation. Don't know whether it's true but Sadeqain's work on Ghalib is sort of a stamp of approval to this belief".

A rare visionary, Sadqain was able to bridge the gulf between the disparate groups in society. At the age of 31 his work won recognition at the 1961 Paris Biennial. Sadqain had a prolific career and much of his work is displayed in public places. Like Diego Rivera, he celebrated the role of the proletariat. His early mural, based on the dignity of labour is housed in the Mangla dam, near Islamabad. Later he painted a mammoth ceiling for The Lahore Museum based on poet Iqbal’s verses evoking the spirit of man to triumph over odds. While working on his second ceiling at the Freer Hall in Karachi, the painter took ill and died leaving the work incomplete. During his life Sadequain became a cult figure with a large following from all walks of life.

Elongated human forms with bleeding pen-like fingers and nest-shaped head were central to his imagery. In the 70s he got nation-wide fame for his rendering of Quranic verses. Sadequain was one of the few artists who continuously received State support and was equally admired by the people. The very work that gave him a large following did not get critical acclaim. Despite the divided opinion, his influential position in art history cannot be denied. He came from a long line of master calligraphers and was perhaps ideally suited to bridge the gap between modernity and tradition. The content of his work has wider appeal, the early works addressed social evils and in the later decades Sadequain used the unifying spirit of calligraphy to appeal to the masses, who came in large numbers to see his exhibitions.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lake Saif-ul-Maluk in Naran - - A Traditional Alpine Lake, A Must-Visit Beauty for Tourists

Lake Saif ul Muluk is the must see activity in Naran. It takes around about 3 hours on foot to travel to the lake. You can also hire jeeps or horses if you dont feel like walking to it. you have to cross a glacier on the way to the lake.The whole path is very beautiful and its recommended that you walk to it. In this way you will get to appreciate the captivating beauty on the way.

Lake Saiful Muluk is situated at 3000+m, about 40 minutes jeep ride from Naran. Best time to visit is early in the morning when the air is cool, resulting in a picture perfect reflection on the lake. Horses are also available for one to take a tour around the lake. Camping facilities are also avaialbe, but you will have to check with the hotel that you will stay at.

If you are lugging heavy back packs, or accompanies by children, porters are also available to assist you in carrying your extra stuff.

Nice view of Malaka Parbat.

The sad fact is that the tourisim has really destroyed the natural surrounding. With one shak tea/cold drink houses cropping up, along with no eco-tourism sense, the lake is fast loosing its charm. Best is to visit early in the morning when everyone else is having their breakfast.

Directions: The road from PTDC takes you straight towards the lake, crossing a glacier. During some seasons the glacier is so long that jeeps can not traverse it. Than you have an option to walk (approx 2-3 km) or rent a horse (availabe at the glacier).

Monday, September 28, 2009

Satpara Lake, Skardu - - Where Fairies Come To Take a Bath

Satpara Lake is an important lake in Skardu Valley which supplies water for the town of Skardu, which is located at 2,636 meters (8,650 ft). It is one of the most picturesque lakes in Pakistan.

In 2002, the Government of Pakistan decided to build a dam on the Satpara Lake. The Government allocated Rs. 600 million ($10 million) for Satpara Dam project in 2004's financial year. The progress on the project, however, has been slow.

The elevation of Satpara lake is 8650 feet above sea level. The lake is spread over an area of 2.5 km². A story is attached with this lake by local people that there is gold mine in the bottom of this lake, that is why its water seems shining in the day time.

Its a very beautiful lake situated at quite some height. The water is just so clean here that you can clearly see wats beneath it. It is also famous for its rare trout fish.

Directions: It is just only a few kms from the skardu town. You can either go there by walk or you can hire a taxi/jeep. It didnt take me more than four hours of walk to reach there.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Chitral Fort: A Place To Visit for History Lovers - - Past and Present of Historical Fort

Chitral was a Princely State in fact it remained so until 1961 in fact and the fort of Chital was the HQ so to speak. This place was the setting of a more or less famous British India battle in 1895. About 400 on the British side held out here in this fort and suffered heave casualties losing both British officers and over 100 Sikhs. Anyway they were finaly rescued and the britished posted forces here at this fort for many years. This area is Kafiristan as in The Man Who Would Be King" the short story by Rudyard Kipling concerning two British ex-soldiers who set off from 19th century British India in search of adventure and end up as kings of Kafiristan.

Tribesmen in Chitral (district in northernmost Pakistan) remained hostile to the British, who had entered the area and established an agency (1889). In 1895, a coup d'etat in Chitral cost the life of the ruling chief, and the victors attempted to drive out the British representative, which necessitated the dispatch of a 16,000-man British expedition to reduce the rebels. At the Malakand Pass, on April 3, 1895, the invading troops overwhelmed some 12,000 Chitralis, who lost more than 500 men before giving up control of the pass; on the other side about 70 were killed or wounded. A British garrison was later set up in Chitral, which was annexed to British India. Tribal rebellions occurred, but the British presence eventually brough peace in 1898.

In January 1895, Nizam-ul-Mulk was murdered while out hawking at Broz, at the instigation of his younger half-brother, Amir-ul-Mulk. Amir-ul-Mulk then seized the Chitral fort and sent a deputation to Lieut. Gurdon, assistant political agent at Chitral, demanding his immediate recognition as Mehtar. Lieut. Gordon replied that the orders of the government must be awaited. Amir-ul-Mulk's sister was married to Umra Khan and there is little doubt that the murder of Nizam-ul-Mulk was inspired by Umra Khan in conjunction with the party of Sher Afzal. Amir-ul-Mulk being a tool in the hands of the Pathan Chief, who was used in a similar manner by the Amir of Afghanistan, Umra Khan remained in possession of the Narsat (or Narai) district, and all proposals of Nizam-ul-Mulk to attempt the recovery thereof by force had been discouraged. Shortly after the murder of Nizam, Umra Khan with a force of 1200 fighting men and 1500 coolies crossed the Lowari Pass and occupied Lower Chitral, giving out that he was conducting a religious war against the inhabitants (Kafirs) of the Bashgal area. He asked Amir-ul-Mulk to join him but the latter was both unwilling and unable to comply. Umra Khan accordingly laid siege to Drosh Fort. Meanwhile, the political agent at Gilgit, Surgeon Major George Robertson, had been sent to Chitral by the government to report on the situation with his escort of 400 men, 300 being Kashmir state forces. He occupied Chitral Fort. Robertson had previously demanded an explanation from Umra Khan as to the presence of his forces in Chitral and requested him to immediately withdraw. Umra Khan, however, replied that his aim had been to assist and strengthen Amir-ul-Mulk and combine with him on an attack on the Kafirs. Since Amir-ul-Mulk had refused his friendship and acted in a hostile manner, therefore he, Umra Khan, had no alternative left to him but to act as he had done. Owing to the poor and weak leadership of Amir-ul-Mulk and the treachery of Mehtarjao Kokhan Beg and other influential Chitralis, the resistance by the Chitralis collapsed and on 25th January 1895 they were driven away from their position before Drosh Fort itself until the 9th February when the whole garrison surrendered to Umra Khan. After losing the Drosh Fort, the Chitralis concentrated at Ghairat position.

According to the report of Surgeon Major George Robertson dated 1st February 1895, all was well at Chitral and the Chitralis were cheerful and helpful. He also reported that Ghairat, a strong defensive position 10 miles north of Drosh, was still held and that Umra Khan's followers had deserted him. Suddenly, however, the whole picture changed by the reappearance of Sher Afzal, who was supported by the ruling class of Adamzadas and their adherents. On the 27th of February, Sher Afzal demanded that Robertson along with his troops should withdraw to Mastuj and it became apparent that Sher Afzal and Umra Khan had joined hands to induce the British Officers and their troops to quit Chitral territory, by force if necessary. Having achieved that, the two chiefs would decide who should be the Mehtar. The Adamzadas in the beginning did not side openly with Sher Afzal, but before the end of February they changed their mind and practically joined him in a body along with their followers. Ghairat position was thus denuded of its defenders and was occupied by Sher Afzal's outposts. Mehtar Amir-ul-Mulk now made overtures to Umra Khan. Robertson therefore placed him in custody in the fort and formally recognized Shuja-ul-Mulk, a boy of 14 years old, provisional Mehtar pending orders of the Government of India.

The British garrison at Chitral Fort now amounted to 419 fighting men besides the administrative staff, transport personnel, servants and 52 Chitralis. The strength of Umra Khan's force is not known. It was variously computed at 3000 to 5000 men. On 3rd March, Sher Afzal arrived along with armed men following and took positions on the Chitral plain, mainly in the vicinity of the fort. In order to ascertain the strength of the enemy, the garrison of the fort made an ineffective sortie on the afternoon of 3rd March. They suffered heavy casualties and made a difficult retreat to the fort where they were besieged from 3rd March until 19th April, 1895. During the siege period, Chitralis gained two other successes firstly at Reshun where two British officers were captured, their following destroyed and 40,000 rounds of ammunition taken, secondly the annihilation of about 100 men of the 14th Sikhs under Captain Ross at Kuragh defile.

The British garrison at Chitral Fort held out until the approach of a small force from Gilgit under Colonel Kelly which caused Chitralis to withdraw. The Chitral relief under General Low which had approached from the direction of Malakand and the Lowari pass arrived a week later and took Sher Afzal prisoner, while Umra Khan fled to Afghanistan. Sher Afzal with Amir-ul-Mulk and their leading followers were deported to India on the 1st May and the selection of Shuja-ul-Mulk as Mehtar was conformed. A prominent British garrison was ordered to be located at Chitral and it comprised two infantry battalions, one company of Bengal Sappers and Miners and one section of Mountain Battery with two guns. This garrison was annually relieved.


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Colourful Pakistan - - Kailash Valley, Chitral: Heaven on The Earth

Chitral Valley is another wonderful tourist destination in Pakistan. Popular for mountaineering, trekking, fishing and hiking, Chitral Valley is located at an altitude of 1,128 metres above sea level. Chitral is surrounded by Afghanistan on three sides. Chitral has a number of beautiful tourist spots that you can visit. Quite hot during summer, the best time to tour Chitral Valley is from July to September.

Chitral Valley is known for its hospitality and if you get an opportunity to stay with traditional family in Chitral, it would be wonderful experience. Traditional hospitality is what you should not miss on your tour to Chitral. Cuisine and culture is what you enjoy on your tour to Chitral Valley.
Music is another exciting experience in Chitral. You can listen to the soothing notes of the traditional 'Chitrali Sitar' in the bazaars of Chitral.

A tour of Kalash Valley is what you should not miss on your Chitral tour. Kalash Valley is home to Kafir-Kalash, which a primitive pagan tribe. There are different theories about their past and descent. According to a legend Kalash-Kafir are the descendents of the five soldiers of the Alexander Army, who settled down in Chitral.
Polo is a popular game in Chitral. During festive occasions polo matches are held. Polo matches are quite popular among the people of the area and tourists. If you are planning to visit Chitral Valley, plan your trip in July, as every year in the first week of July, Shandur Pass comes alive with cheers of Polo fans.
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Friday, September 25, 2009

Hunza Valley - - Hopar Glacier: An Excellent Place To Visit for Nature Lovers

The Hopar Glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers in the Hunza Valley. It is located in the area of Nagar after crossing a cool suspension bridge over the Hunza River. The Nagaris are Shiites unlike the people on the other side of the road who are Ismailis and hence the Nagaris are more strict in religion than the Hunzakuts. The Hopar glacier is about an hour of a ride from Karimabad (depends on road conditions) in a jeep. Excellent place to visit. The glacier feels very alive and is very slippery too!

From Hunza you can also arrange a trip to snow lake(Bifao,Hispar Glaciers) Hispar Pass - The crossing point between Baltistan and Hunza valley is the Hispar pass which is at the elevation of 5151 meters from the top looking back gives a feeling of vast snowy space without a hint of vegetation. Coiling out from snow lake smooth glaciers writhe between nameless and unclimbed peaks the highest peak due east is the Baintha Brak 7285 meters high. In the west the Hispar glacier rough and snow covered stretches down as far as the eye can see, Separating the Hispar Muztag range on the right from the Rakaposhi and Balchish range.Because the Biafo-Hispar region is very remote it serves as the last stronghold for many animals; including Himalayan bear, ibex, markhor and the snow leopard. H.W. Tilman, an English adventurer, claimed he saw footprints of the Yeti during his trek there in 1937. At the base of Hispar Pass on its eastern flank rests Snow Lake, a basin of ice (16 km. wide) surrounded by granite pinnacles yet to be climbed.

Heaven-Like Pakistan - - Baltit Fort: Hunza Valley Attracting Tourists From All Over The World

The state of Hunza was ruled for over 1000 years by the same family with their seat of power at the Baltit Fort. It is located on a large rocky outcrop at the base of the might Ultar Peaks (claimed by locals that no one has reached its summit).

This fort was renovated and reopened in 1997, and gives a magnificent view of the Hunza valley.

Doors inside were quite small, and the tour guide explained that this was a defensive mechanism as well. A person/enemy had to stoop low to enter (head first) and on the other end were the soldiers of hunza awaiting...chop chop.

The climb itself (if you are from seal level and not physically fit) on a narrow street is a challenge. On numerous occasions we had to rest and catch our breath. Noticed that the old people of this place had small hunchbacks…probably from climbing up and down in this small hamlet.

In addition to the tickets, you will also be charged seperately if you want to take photographs or make video inside the fort. Worth paying for both.

The fort itself gives a magnificent Birds eye View of the valley around; behind it is the might Ultar peak, and in front you can see the Hunza river, Rakhaposhi, and at a distant behind Golden peak, Broad Peak.

Kubaku Phail Gyee Bat ..... - - Mehdi Hassan: The Unparalleled Master of Ghazal

It is widely considered that the era of the 1950s and 60s was the golden age of radio broadcasting in the Indian sub-continent. It was during this period that a rich and mellifluous voice captured the hearts of all the listeners through broadcasts on Radio Pakistan. The melodic renditions of classical ghazals in a cultivated and cultured manner were its attributes and created a storm amongst the masses, musical connoisseurs and erudite musicians. Almost half a century has gone by and yet it still never fails to captivate. The voice is indeed that of Mehdi Hassan, the unparalleled master of ghazal.

The evolution of the ghazal is a momentous one. Initially written in Persian, it can trace its origins in India during the advent of the Muslim rule in India during the 12th century. Hazrat Amir Khusrau (1253-1324), the eminent poet, scholar, statesman and musicologist is credited with many masterpieces of Persian poetry and can be termed as a major propagator of the ghazal. The pinnacle of the ghazal can be said to have been between the 18th and 19th centuries when Urdu became the preferred language of poetry and culture throughout India, poets such as Sauda, Mir Taqi Mir, Zauq, and Mirza Ghalib penned ghazals which are considered as hallmarks of Urdu poetry. Gradually, during the course of time, ghazals started to be expressed through melody and musicians started to use them as part of their repertoire. Ustad Mauzuddin Khan and Gauhar Jan were the early pioneers who built a reputation in the field and set the initial groundwork. Later, vocalists of the calibre of Ustad Barkat Ali Khan, Mukhtar Begum and Begum Akhtar established themselves as major exponents of ghazal gayaki. However, Mehdi Hassan has added a further dimension to this art form.

Mehdi Hassan was born in 1927 in a village called Luna in Rajasthan, India into a family of traditional musicians. He claims to be the 16th generation of hereditary musicians hailing from the Kalawant clan of musicians. Mehdi Hassan had his musical grooming from his father Ustad Azeem Khan and uncle Ustad Ismail Khan who were both traditional Dhrupad singers. The life story of Mehdi Hassan is a journey of trials and tribulations. After partition the family migrated to Pakistan and suffered severe financial hardships.

To make ends meet Mehdi started working in a bicycle shop and later became a car and diesel tractor mechanic. Despite the hardships, his passion for music didn’t wither and he kept up the routine of practice on a daily basis. His struggle ended when he was given the opportunity to sing on radio in 1952, primarily as a thumri singer, this got him recognition within the musical fraternity. At that time, Ustad Barkat Ali Khan, Begum Akhtar and Mukhtar Begum were considered the stalwarts of ghazal gayaki, Mehdi Hassan also had a passion for Urdu poetry and started to experiment by singing ghazals on a part time basis. He cites radio officers Z.A. Bukhari and Rafiq Anwar as additional influences in his progression as a ghazal singer. They gave him ample opportunities to display his mastery over the ghazal on radio. He sang ghazals of all the renowned Urdu poets and soon his innovative style was soon appreciated by both the masses and discerning audiences.

The most important aspect of the ghazal is its theme, themes of most ghazals revolve around unrequited love. They can also be about mysticism, rebellion, yearning and pathos. It is vital that the ghazal singer has a clear perception of what message the poet is trying to convey. The musician faces a further challenge in trying to emphasize the correct emotion of the ghazal through music. Traditionally, ghazals were sung in a thumri like manner and were also composed in raags which were best suited for thumri such as bhairvin, khamaj, tilak kamod, desh and piloo. This somewhat constrained the ghazal composition within a small framework and there wasn’t much room to experiment. However Mehdi Hassan pioneered ghazal gayaki by capturing the mood of the ghazal through his compositions. He is a master composer and uses raags which best suit the ghazal’s appeal regardless of whether the raag is khayal or thumri orientated. Most of his compositions are based around the correct structure of a raag and keep the vaadi and samvaadi of the raag into strict consideration.

Mehdi Hassan’s gayaki incorporates the subtle elements of both Dhrupad and Khayal. He carefully embellishes ghazals by using behlawas, murkhis, taans and zamzamas. Further grace is given by touches of Rajasthani folk singing. Another important feature of his style is the importance of correct pronunciation, delivery of words are of utmost importance and he never compromises the true expression of a word regardless of the constraints put forward by the musical composition. The mutual bond between melody and the lyrical content is responsible for making the art of Mehdi Hassan so appealing. In addition he has raised the profile of ghazal gayaki which was previously considered a taboo amongst classical exponents and reformed it into a major melodic genre which sits on an equal footing with thumri, dadra, kajri and tappa. His influence was such that some leading classical vocalists of that era took to ghazal singing.

Mehdi Hassan's popularity resulted in his becoming one of the most popular playback singers of the Pakistani film industry from the early 1960s to the late 1980s. Many of his film based ghazals have become classics.

One also has to give credit to music directors associated with radio Pakistan and the Pakistan film industry who composed many beautiful melodies for Mehdi Hassan to adorn. Composers such as Ustad Niaz Hussain Shami, Pandit Ghulam Qadir (Mehdi Hassan's brother), Master Inayat Hussain, Khawaja Khurshid Anwar, Rashid Atray, Nisar Bazmi and Mohsin Raza are additional contributories to Mehdi Hassan's success.

The government of Pakistan has awarded Mehdi Hassan the pride of performance as a recognition to his services rendered to music, and he was also recently awarded a life achievement award by Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation. As with a stature of a person like Mehdi Hassan, he has released many recordings, toured worldwide on an extensive basis and performed in the renowned concert halls around the world. He recently took part in the 50th anniversary of Rajasthan celebrations in India in which the leading artistes of Rajasthani origin participated. He currently devotes most of his time with his family in between Pakistan and the USA.

Despite advancing age, Mehdi Hassan still reigns as the undisputed master of the ghazal. He has left such an indelible mark in the field of ghazal gayaki that almost all the ghazal singers of today are influenced by him. Mehdi Hassan has also been instrumental in training the next generation of ghazal singers. His sons Asif and Kamran are following in their father’s footsteps and trying to carve a career as ghazal singers, other prominent disciples are Parvez Mehdi, Ghulam Abbas, Salamat Ali, Asif Javed and Talat Aziz.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ismail Gulgee - - An Era of Art and Islammic Calligraphy in Pakistan

Ismail Gulgee (October 25, 1926 – December 14, 2007) Pride of Performance, Sitara-e-Imtiaz (twice), Hilal-e-Imtiaz, was an award-winning, globally famous Pakistani artist born in Peshawar. He was a qualified engineer in the U.S. and self-taught abstract painter and portrait painter. Before 1959, as portraitist, he painted the entire Afghan Royal Family. From about 1960 on, he was noted as an abstract painter influenced by the tradition of Islamic calligraphy and by the American "action painting" idiom.

Initially, he went to Aligarh University to study civil engineering before heading off to USA for continuing his higher education. According to, Gulgee started to paint while acquiring his training as an engineer in the United States at Columbia University and then Harvard. His first exhibition was in 1950.

Gulgee was a gifted and consummately skilled naturalistic portrait painter who had enjoyed (according to Partha Mitter) "lavish state support" and plenty of elite commissions in this capacity. Nevertheless, he was perhaps best known worldwide for his abstract work, which was inspired by Islamic calligraphy and was also influenced by the "action painting" movement of the 1950s and 1960s (Mitter notes that Elaine Hamilton was a strong influence in this direction). This is perhaps a natural enough stylistic combination, since in both Islamic calligraphy and action painting a high value is placed on the unity and energy of gestural flow. As with the works of other action painters or abstract expressionists, Gulgee's canvases were often quite large. He was also known for using materials such as mirror glass and gold or silver leaf in his oil paintings, so that they were in fact mixed media pieces.

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (see external links): "Gulgee's calligraphy paintings are abstract and gestural interpretations of Arabic and Urdu letters. His sweeping layers of paint explore the formal qualities of oil paint while they make references to Islamic design elements." [1]

Beginning in the 1960s (if not earlier), Gulgee also created sculptures, including bronze pieces that were (like so many of his paintings) calligraphic in form and inspiration, and sometimes specifically based on verses from the Quran [].

His paintings were bright and full of color, but the paint was put on with great sensitivity, and paintings vibrate with intense feeling. Areas sing with luminous, thin color; thick blobs of paint pulsate with fiberglass tears, the brush swirls strong and free. The total effect used to be very free, yet considered and well thought out. They work enormously well, because it was all orchestrated with great care and concentration.

His son Amin Gulgee is also a famous artist.

Monday, September 21, 2009

"Chand Raat" (Pre-Eid Night) Festivities and Activities in Pakistan

Mehndi or Henna: An important part of Eid and Chand Raat festivities

'Chand Raat', or the night when the Eid moon has been sighted is the most exciting part of the Eid festivities.
As children we used to wait for the sighting of the moon and the announcement after it was seen.What a frenzy when all the family members would be on the roofs of their houses to see the new crescent emerge once the last fast or 'roza' had been opened with dates,sherbet and 'pakoras' and samosas.Old and young were full of enthusiasm and wishes each other Chand mubarak or Eid ka Chand mubarak .

Later after dinner the women folk went to get Henna put on their palms.Henna which is a green paste made by grinding henna leaves and then mixing it with water.This is used to make tatoo designs on the hands of young girls and married older women too.
Over the years this art has been specialized by women who throng shopping centers all over Pakistan especially in Karachi they throng the bazaars.
Nowadays beauty parlours also cater to the whims and fancies of their clients and arrange for the Henna specialists to apply henna on the clients' hands in the saloons.Minimum cost per hand ranges from 50-80 rupees.

Eid Celebrations in Pakistan Without Mehndi Means Colourless Painting

One of the main feature of Eid Celebrations in Pakistan is decor of Mendhi (or Mehndi) by women of all ages. It is the application of Henna as a temporary form of skin decoration in South Asia, Southwest Asia, North Africa and the Horn of Africa, as well as by expatriate communities from these areas. Mehendi decorations became fashionable in the West in the late 1990s, where they are sometimes called henna tattoos. Henna is typically applied during special occasions like weddings and festivals. It is usually drawn on the palms and feet, where the color will be darkest because the skin contains higher levels of keratin which binds temporarily to lawsone, the colorant of henna. Henna was originally used as a form of decoration mainly for brides.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Eid Ul Fitr - - A Day To Cerlebrate the Blessings of Allah Taála

Eid Ul Fitr is one of the most significant festivals among the Muslims. It marks the end of the month of Ramazan also known as Ramadan, the month of fasting. In Arabic language Eid means festivity. Eid Ul Fitr means Festival of Breaking the Fast. This festival falls on the first day of the month of Shawwal, which is the tenth month according to the Islamic Calendar.

Muslims fast during the holy month of Ramazan which is the ninth month according to the Islamic Calendar. During the month of Ramazan Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and smoking from dawn to sunset. During the month of Ramazan Muslims offer more prayers than usual and ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds. The month of Ramazan holds great significance in Muslim history as the holy book of 'Quran' was revealed during this month to Prophet Muhammad.

Following the end of the month of Ramazan, Eid Ul Fitr is celebrated on the first day of the following month after another new moon has been sighted. Eid Ul Fitr falls after 29 or 30 days of fasting as per the sighting of the moon. Muslims all around the world wait eagerly for this festival. The festivities begin with Morning Prayers in Mosques which are attended by men, women and children.

Eid Ul Fitr has been also observed as Thanksgiving Day by the Muslims. On this day Muslims show their real joy for the health, strength and the opportunities of life, which Allah has given to them to fulfill their obligation of fasting and other good deeds during the holy month of Ramazan. Following the prayers Muslims greet family members, relatives and friends. There is also the custom of sending beautiful Eid greeting cards to relatives and friends. Family get together are arranged with sumptuous meals. Muslims also decorate their houses in their own special ways to create a feel of Eid Festival.

This year Eid Ul Fitr is being celebrated in India on Monday, September 21, which is a public holiday.

Latest Pashto Song on Eid By Raheem Shah

A new song on Eid Festival was released in Sweet Pasto Language; sung by Raheem Shah in his famous style. See and Enjoy:

Eid-ul-Fitr In Pakistan - - Is It A Real Celebration For Poor?

Where religious leaders are dressing down each other on the issue of moon and the rich are haggling over as whether to go to Dubai or London Eid celebrations, the real face of Pakistan, millions upon millions of Pakistanis are failing to answer the questions of thier kids as why they cannot have new clothes, some food, toys, sweets, and Eidi.
Islam has a strong stance for peace love harmony and equality among all the Muslims. Islam is a perfect religion as everyone knows and it teaches how to regulate money from rich man to the poor in the form of Zakat and Fitrana. We can help the needy on individual levels by giving them money well before Eid, so that they could also let themselves and their children get a relief, even for one day. Rich can try and help all these poor people economically, socially, morally and financially by giving Zakat and Fitrana. It will purify their wealth and they would understand what the true happiness is.
Eid Fitr is one of the two great Islamic festivals, the other being Eid-ul-Azha. Its importance can be judged from the fact that Almighty Allah Himself ordered the believers to celebrate it. It is celebrated at the end of the month of fasting (Ramadan) and has a special significance for the Muslim society. Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) established the Islamic egalitarian society, free of all kinds of exploitation and corruption, and maintaining the sanctity of this society was made the obligation of the believers in every age.
We as Pakistanis don’t really celebrate the Eid. We waste money on Chand raat, and we get out in bazars in hordes to ogle and to tease people and on Eid, we wake up late, miss the prayers, eat like animals and then watch movies or sleep all the day and then eat again, while wearing our those expensive new clothes. We tend to forget those poor who are suffering even on the Eid day, who don’t have anything to eat. What celebration is this for the rich? We have forgotten the true meaning of Eid. Every year, we miss this unique chance to create harmoney and love in the country and to cover the distance between rich and poor and to decrease the social disparity.
According to the World Bank, more then 40 per cent of Pakistani’s earn one dollar a day, while over 60 per cent live under the income of two dollars a day. But then Eid is not really about money. Its about love and harmony. We all should visit our poor relatives, neighbors and then to the other needy people and spend time with them, laugh with them, enjoy with them. Why is it so hard?

Read the latest and more comprehensive article on Chand Raat 2011 and its festivities 

Eid-ul-Fitr Across The Globe - - A Reward Against Ramadan Fasting From Allah Taála

For Muslims all over the Globe, Eid Ul Fitr, or Meethi (Sweet) Eid as it is known in Pakistan, is one of the favourite celebrations of the Muslim calendar.

Eid, is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. Eid is an Arabic word meaning “festivity”, while Fitr means “charity” and so the holiday symbolises the breaking of the fasting period. It is celebrated starting on the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal.

Typically, Muslims wake up early in the morning and have a small breakfast with their family, before attending a special Eid prayer (salah) that is performed in congregation at mosques or open areas like fields, squares etc. Muslims are encouraged to dress in their best clothes, new clothes if possible, for the occasion. No Adhan or Iqama is to be pronounced for this Eid prayer, and it consists of only two raka’ahs.

The Eid prayer is followed by the khutbah (sermon) and then a supplication (dua’) asking for forgiveness, mercy and help for all living beings across the world. The khutbah also instructs Muslims as to the performance of rituals of Eid, such as the zakat. It is then customary to embrace the persons sitting on either side of one, whilst greeting them.

The traditional Eid greeting is “Eid Mubarak” followed by an embrace. Eid is celebrated in different ways across the globe, but the overall feeling of joy and happiness is shared by everyone.

In countries like Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh Children receive new clothing and families visit relatives and friends. The night before Eid is called Chand Raat, which means, night of the moon. People often visit bazaars and shopping malls, with their families and children, for last minute Eid shopping. Women, especially young girls, often paint each others’ hands with traditional “henna” and wear colourful bangles.

Sweets are made and “mithai” is usually given out to family members and friends. Eid cakes and desserts are also very popular items to be gifted to relatives.

In recent years the practice of sending Eid cards has increased considerably.

In India and Pakistan Henna is applied to women’s hands of all ages, and children receive “Eddi” which can be a small amount of money or sweets.

In the United Kingdom due to the large amount of resident Pakistanis and Indians, Eid is celebrated with much fervor.

Eid ul-Fitr is not a recognised public holiday in the United Kingdom but in a large ethnically Muslim area, normally schools and local businesses give exemptions to the Muslim community to take three days off. In the rest of the UK it is not recognised as the date of Eid ul fitr is based on the Lunar calendar and the sighting of Shawwal’s moon and it is not a fixed date.

People cook traditional food for their relatives. Dishes such as Samosas, biryani or pulao Rice and handi are particularly popular.

In North America, That is The USA and Canada, the end of Ramadan is announced via e-mail, postings on websites, or chain phone calls to all members of a Muslim community. Working persons usually attempt to make arrangements for a lighter work day on the days that may possibly be the Eid day, but many North American Muslims are often noted to not be able to take the entire day off.

In Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, Eid is also commonly known as Hari Raya. Hari Raya literally means ‘Day of Celebration’ i.e. ‘The Day’. Muslims in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore celebrate Eid like other Muslims throughout the world. It is the biggest holiday in Indonesia and Malaysia and is the most awaited one. Shopping malls and bazaars are filled with people days ahead of Hari Raya, causing a distinctive festive atmosphere throughout the country. Many banks, government and private offices are closed for this holiday, which usually lasts a week

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Turkey Eid celebrations are all abound, with sales and festivals starting in the holy month of Ramadan and all night festivals going up to Eid. In Saudi Arabia the influx of people from all across the Globe is immense and the Holy Mosque in Mecca is packed full. Ramadan is the month of prayer and forgiveness, so all who can afford it, to try to perform Umrah in this holy month, and some try to stay until Eid.

Eid in Muslim countries is a beloved public holiday, where schools and government offices are generally closed for the entire period of the celebrations.

It is a time for people to attend prayer services, put on their best clothes often purchased just for the occasion, and to visit all their loved ones such as friends, relatives and neighbours and pay their respects to the deceased with organised visits to cemeteries.

In Pakistan Eid is a much loved and much celebrated holiday. Eid ul fitr is especially a favorite as it comes after a month of fasting and prayer.

May you all have a blessed and wonderful Eid. *

Read the latest and more comprehensive article on Chand Raat 2011 and its festivities  

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Abida Parveen Singing Urdu Ghazal - - A perfect Voice For Sufi Music

Abida Parveen (born 1954) (Sindhi: عابده پروين, Urdu: عابده پروین), is a Pakistani singer of Sufi music. Parveen sings in Urdu, Sindhi, Seraiki, Punjabi and Persian.

Abida Parveen is a rarity in the world of Sufi music, a female lead performer. She is the daughter of prominent Pakistani vocalist Ustad Ghulam Haider, who (somewhat bravely) ignored convention and allowed her to study under him, and she also accompanied him to various religious performances. 

After a time developing her abilities, she married Ustad Hussein Sheikh, an influential producer from Radio Pakistan, who also helped her to further her career. More time was spent in study, this time with the great Salamat Ali Khan. A number of albums, compilation appearances, and various world tours have followed, making her by far the most successful Sufi female performer, and one of the more notable performers of the form in general.

Sir (Ustad) Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - - The Legendary Voice of Sub-Continent

Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (October 13, 1948 - August 16, 1997) was primarily a singer of Qawwali, the devotional music of the Sufis, a mystical offshoot of Islam. Traditionally, Qawwali has been a family business. Nusrat’s family (originally from Afghanistan, though they had been living in Pakistan for a large part of their lives) has an unbroken tradition of performing qawwali for the last 600 years.

Nusrat took over his family’s qawwali party in 1971 after the death of his father and his uncle. In Pakistan, his first major hit was the song “Haq Ali Ali”. This was performed in a traditional style and with traditional instrumentation, and featured only sparse use of Nusrat’s innovative sargam improvisations. Nevertheless the song became a major hit, as many listeners were attracted to the timbre and other qualities of Nusrat’s voice.

He reached out to Western audiences with a couple of fusion records produced by Canadian guitarist Michael Brook. In 1995, he collaborated with Eddie Vedder on the soundtrack of Dead Man Walking. His contribution to that and several other soundtracks and albums (including The Last Temptation of Christ), as well as his friendship with Peter Gabriel, helped to increase his popularity in Europe and the United States. Peter Gabriel’s Real World label released five albums of Nusrat’s traditional Qawwali performances in the West. He also performed traditional Qawwali live to Western audiences at several WOMAD world music festivals.

Nusrat was noted for introducing other forms of improvisation into the style. From his classical music training, he would interject much more complex alap improvisations, with more vibrato and note bending. He would also interject sargam improvisations.

While it is undoubtedly difficult to put into words what makes Nusrat’s music appeal so deeply to so many listeners, many of whom do not understand a single word of the languages he sings in, here is one fan’s attempt to explain: “Nusrat’s music invites us to eavesdrop on a man communing with his God, ever so eloquently. He makes the act of singing a passionate offering to God. But we do not merely eavesdrop. The deepest part of Nusrat’s magic lies in the fact that he is able to bring our hearts to resonate with the music, so deeply, that we ourselves become full partners in that offering. He sings to God, and by listening, we also sing to God.”

“Singing with Nusrat was pretty heavy,” says Eddie Vedder. “There was definitely a spiritual element. I saw him warm up once, and I walked out of the room and just broke down. I mean, God, what amazing power and energy.”

The late American rock singer Jeff Buckley paid tribute to Nusrat on the album “Live at Sin-é”. In his introduction, he states, “Nusrat, he’s my Elvis,” before performing the song “Yeh Jo Halka Halka Saroor Hai”. This recording generated interest in Nusrat among an audience that was previously unaware of his music.

In 2005, a tribute band called Brook’s Qawwali Party was formed in New York City by percussionist Brook Martinez to perform the music of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. The 11+ piece group performs (mostly instrumental) jazz versions of Nusrat’s traditional qawwali songs, using the instruments conventionally associated with jazz (saxophones, brass, electric guitar, double bass, djembe, drum set, and percussion) rather than those associated with qawwali.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Proud to Be Pakistani - - The Land of The Oldest Civilization :"Indus Valley" and "Mohenjo-Daro"

Moenjodaro is the province of Sindh, Pakistan and archeology trace back it exitence 5000 years ago. It provides an earliest instance of exemplary form of town planning and community organization and found to be as one of the oldest cities known today. It is said to be the pilgrimage of ancient ruins. The splendor of Indus Valley civilization spread over a thousand mile from the high peak snowy mountains of Kashmir to the glittering sand dunes facing the Arabian Sea. One of the oldest known civilization that flourished in the Indus river Basin embraced within its fold almost the entire country now known as Pakistan.

Proud to Be Pakistani - - Thar Desert : One Amongst The Largest Deserts In The World

Thar is a arid region in the north western part of Indian subcontinent, it lies mostly in Indian state of Rajasthan but it covers eastern Sindh province and the southeastern portion of Pakistan’s Punjab province. It is amongst one of the largest deserts in the world rich multifaceted culture, heritage, traditions, folk tales, dances and music. The poetic expression of Kafi written by Sufi poets of Sindh resonates in the cold nights as the Thari musicians start singing them on sorrowing rhythmic beats. In the night the granules of the sand lit up like stars as the moonlight walks on them.

Proud to Be Pakistani - - Khewra Salt Mine: Second Largest Salt Mine in the World

Khewra Salt Mine located in Khewra, Jehlum Punjab, Pakistan is the second largest Salt Mine in the world and is considered to be the oldest in the subcontinent. It was said that discovery of Salt mines were not done by Alexander or his army but by their horses as they started licking the stones when they stopped here for rest. Thousand of visitors each year visit Khewra Salt mines and get fascinated by the nature’s miracle in the heart of mountains.

“Ralli” (Patchwork) Quilts - - Traditional Craftsmanship Converted in to Textile Products

Throughout history, Asia has been known as a place producing the best in textiles. The art of making fabric from cotton was first perfected here, in the ancient southern part of this subcontinent. The Romans even sent traders to this area to get fine fabrics for their togas. Womenfolk in the Indus Region of the subcontinent, presently the sdomain of an independent sovereign state of Pakistan have traditionally been the harbingers of this historical tradition. A particular type of such beautiful textiles produced in the area is the “Ralli” quilts.

Ralli is termed “patchwork” in the west, a nomenclature used because of combining fine craftsmanship with thrifty recycling; more so, because it is the joining of shaped pieces of patterns or colored fabrics to form a rich mosaic. The technique offers a limitless scope to experiment with patterns, color and textures.

Adorned with bright colors and bold patterns, the quilts are also called rilli, rilly, rallee or rehli derived from the local word ralanna meaning to “mix or connect”. For sake of simplicity and to avoid confusion in terms, used in different places of ralli production, the term “Ralli” has been used in this post; which by no means be taken as a standard term.

In Pakistan, rallis are made in the southern province of Pakistan including Sindh, in Balochistan province and Cholistan desert in Bahawalpur district of Punjab. Just across our borders, in India the art is found in the adjoining states of Gujarat and Rajasthan.

In Appliqué or the applied patchwork motifs are cut from plain or decorative fabrics. The edges are turned under the pieces and are hemmed or slipstitched to a background fabric. Sometimes the edges are left raw and a buttonhole stitch is used to join the fabric to the base in a more elaborated way.

The pattern making possibilities offered by patchwork are almost infinite, but the traditional patterns are still the most popular. The simplest patchworks are one-patch design based on a single geometric shape such as a triangle, a square or a hexagon. Beautiful effects can be achieved by using different fabrics to create patterns. For instance, in the tumbling block design, light, dark and middle tones are used to create a three-dimensional illusion.

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