The tradition of stone crafts in Pakistan is as old as Buddhism itself. Wherever the followers of Buddha went, they took with them his story and carved it in stone, adorning all ancient Stupas, up to China & Afghanistan in the north and Srilanka in the south. These were skill fully crafted wonderful monuments, living to tell the story of Buddhism to this day.
Taxila is the most important historical site in Pakistan in relation to Buddhism. The stone used in the carvings and construction of monuments in Taxila is “Slate”, locally known as Taxila Stone, which is still widely used in modern Pakistani architecture Taxila is also part of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites.
Moderate climate, fertile soil and lush landscapes of the sub continent attracted many invaders. Turks, Persians, Afghans and Mongols, all came from the Arab world to conquer and establish empires in the Indian sub-continent, with them, came their heritage, traditional crafts & craftsmen. This in pour of various cultures & skills when mixed with the local gave Architecture and its related crafts a distinct flavor, unique to this region.
Towards the south of Punjab examples of sophisticated mosaics in blue, white and turquoise glazed tiles, accompanied by Kufic inscriptions can be seen in abundance. These are reminiscent of the Turkish influence in the region. The oldest & most Impressive monument in this style is the tomb of Bibi Javindi in Uchch. Built in 1493 A.D. it is part of a large complex of tombs attributed to the Sufi saints of the time. According to historians it is one of the most splendid monuments ever erected in the honor of the dead.
The tomb was on the World Monument Fund (WMF) Watch List from 1998-2002 and is now on its way to restoration with the help of local craftsmanship.
The Mughal rulers brought with them form Persia a rich tradition of marble carving, inlay, marquetry and an enormous treasure of semi-precious stones. The Lahore fort is living history of the various influences of changing Kings. Later additions speak of the evolving language in craft and architecture of the region. The fort comprises of many lavish pavilions designed for different purposes and pleasures. Its huge span & volume is adorned with elaborate fresco’s, tile-work and carved stone structures covered with complex patterns, inlayed in marble and local red stone. Floors also vary from pavilion to pavilion ranging from elegantly tiled marble to finely laid local brick and stone.