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The Arts, Architecture

Shah Jahan Mosque, Faisal Mosque, Sadequain, Badshahi Mosque, Shalimar Gardens

Pakistan has inherited a combination of Mughal and British colonial architectural forms. Mughal architects combined the Muslim preferences for large domes, slender towers, and archways with the Hindu use of red sandstone, white marble, and inlaid jewels. Mughal artists decorated the monuments with verses from the Quran, the sacred text of Islam. The best example of this architecture is the Badshahi Mosque and Lahore Fort (built between the 1580s and 1670s). The courtyard of the mosque can accommodate 100,000 worshipers, making it the second largest mosque in the world. Pakistan also has the world’s largest mosque, the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, a gift from Saudi Arabia that was constructed in the 1980s. It was designed by a Turkish architect to look like an Arab desert tent. Other examples of Mughal architecture include Shalimar Gardens (laid out in 1641), in Lahore; the Shah Jahan Mosque (17th century), in Thatta, Sind Province; and the mid-18th-century tomb of the great Sindhi poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, in Bhit Shah, near Hyderabad.

Quranic calligraphy and miniature painting have a strong tradition in Pakistan dating to Mughal rule. The most celebrated miniature and mural paintings and calligraphic works were created in the 20th century by Abdul Rehman Chughtai and Sadequain. These Mughal traditions are also visible on colorfully painted and decorated trucks and buses that ply the country.

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