First-ever exhibition on architectural epigraphy in Kashmir evokes interest

Story by  Basit Zargar | Posted by  Aasha Khosa | Date 12-06-2024
Kashmiri women at the first epiphany exhibition in Srinagar (Basit Zargar)
Kashmiri women at the first epiphany exhibition in Srinagar (Basit Zargar)


Basit Zargar/Srinagar

A first of its kind exhibition dedicated to architectural epigraphy in Kashmir is open at the Kashmir Arts Emporium in Srinagar. The event marks the region’s most extensive effort to document, translate, and map historical writings found on its buildings.

The exhibition is evoking a lot of interests among students, historians and even common men and woman. It’s being held at the Kashmir Arts Emporium in Srinagar.

The event represents the most comprehensive effort to document, translate and map the historical writings found on the monuments and shrines of the Valley.,_engravings_and_paintings_of_Kashmir_held_2.jfif

The exhibition includes detailed photographs, drawings and translations of the carvings, engravings and paintings. Dr. Hakim Sameer Hamdani has led the project with a one-year grant from the Barkat Trust in London.

He said, "We are happy to announce the first open exhibition of calligraphic inscriptions on historical buildings including khanqahs, mosques, temples, shrines and tombs of Kashmir."

In collaboration with the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics at the Islamic University of Science and Technology in Awantipora and led by principal investigator Mehran Qureshi, the project aims to shed light on these important inscriptions.,_engravings_and_paintings_of_Kashmir_held_6.jfif

Dr. Hamdani explained, "These inscriptions serve as important sources of public texts for understanding historical interpretations. Collectively, they cover four centuries of dedications, religious and literary writings, beginning with the establishment of Sultanate rule in Kashmir in the 14th century."

Situated at the juncture of various civilizations, Kashmir has evolved as a unique blend of diverse religious and cultural traditions. The introduction of Islam and Persian artistic culture in the 14th century, with the Sultanate rule (1320-1586), catalyzed the development of rich calligraphy traditions.,_engravings_and_paintings_of_Kashmir_held_4.jfif

As the sultans consolidated their rule, the practice of engraving texts of spiritual, historical and political significance on prominent buildings and public spaces emerged. This strategic display of inscriptions helped develop a unique Persian cultural landscape in Kashmir. Hamdani elaborates, “In major Sufi khanqahs, calligraphy was used extensively in a complex program of textual ornamentation. These inscriptions are derived from Quranic verses, prophetic sayings and devotional poems, establishing the spiritual status of various Sufi orders.”,_engravings_and_paintings_of_Kashmir_held_7.jfif

However, many of these historical texts have been lost over time due to reuse of building materials, fire and weathering. The exhibition aims to revive these lost treasures by showcasing documented sites, translations, photographs and reconstructed illustrations.

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This exhibition offers a rare glimpse of Kashmir's rich epigraphic heritage, underlining the historical and cultural depth of the region through its architectural inscriptions.