Pakistani art. Since Pakistan has only formed a political unit since the partition of India in 1947 (united with today’s Bangladesh until 1971), the history of national art development is still young. The geographical location at the connection between the Middle East and South or Central and East Asia, however, meant that Pakistan had a share in various political structures from the earliest times, which among other things also produced important artistic achievements.
Late Neolithic settled cultures with figuratively painted ceramics can be traced back to the time before the Harappa culture (since around 2500 BC) (Mehrgarh, Kot Diji). Stone, terracotta and bronze figures are known from the Harappa culture. The city architecture was already highly developed at this time (Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro, Chanhu-Daro). An unusual artistic creativity can be seen in the soapstone seals, which, in addition to characters, mostly show figures of humans and animals (also mixed or fantasy beings and perhaps deities).
With the decline of the Harappa culture, artistic production ended for the time being. Only from the 6th century BC BC (Bhir hill in Taxila) there was a gradual renewed upswing in art and culture, which first flourished in the empire of the Mauryas, but then above all under the dynasty of the Kushanas (Kushana art, Gandhara art). The predominantly Buddhist Gandhara art, which was largely shaped by Greco-Roman forms and partly also themes, did not, however, have any lasting influence on Pakistani art. From this period numerous archaeological monuments have been preserved in the form of ruins (Taxila, Takht-e Bahi, Butkara).
In the Middle Ages, temples were built under the Hindu Shahi kings in the north of the country from the 6th century to the early 11th century (North Kafirkot, Salt Range), stylistically following the temple of the Gurjara-Pratiharas in western India. On the upper reaches of the Indus along the heavily frequented trade route (today the »Karakoram Highway«), especially in the area of Chilas, rock carvings mostly of Buddhist content were made, mostly from the 5th – 7th centuries. Century.
Already in the 7th / 8th In the 19th century, Islamic expansion reached the south and center of the country. In the upper Indus delta, near the city of Shahdadpur, the old Arab capital Al-Mansura was founded, of which a field of ruins still testifies. According to ethnicityology, early Islamic architecture is predominantly preserved in Pakistan in the form of domed mausoleums (Makli Hills). Soon after 1000 the whole country was Islamized. Most of the traditional buildings in the Islamic style were built in the Mughal period (1526–1858), when Lahore temporarily served as the seat of government. Here, above all, are the Lahore Fort founded by Emperor Akbar with the later added mirror palace »Shish Mahal« (1631), the mausoleum of Emperor Jahangir(Completed in 1637), the Shalimar Gardens (1641–42) and the Badshahi Mosque built by Aurangseb (completed in 1674) (Mughal painting).
Twelve years after gaining independence, the new capital Islamabad was founded in 1959. The Greek architect Constantinos Apostolou Doxiadis (* 1913, † 1975) and the Japanese landscape architect Kimio Kondoh (* 1929) designed the city from a modern point of view. A monumental, contemporary style Islamic building in Islamabad is the King Faisal Mosque (1976-84) by the Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay (* 1927, † 1991).
Abdur Rehman Chughtai (* 1899, † 1975), whose work contains elements of Art Nouveau, is considered the first important painter of the 20th century. In the early 1950s, a group of progressive artists formed in Lahore, including Shakir Ali (* 1916, † 1975), Ahmed Parvez (* 1926, † 1979), Ali Imam (* 1924, † 2002) and Jalal Shemza (* 1928, † 1985). Because of the great importance of ornament in Islamic art, abstraction was welcomed; But there was also figurative painting and landscape painting. Artists such as Zubeida Agha (* 1922, † 1997) played an important role. Zahoorul Akhlaque (* 1941, † 1999) became known for his sensitive abstract works, while Shahid Sajjad (* 1936, † 2014) created expressive primitivist sculptures out of wood. The working conditions of independent artists were at times made more difficult by the political situation.