First Major Book on Kashmir’s Architecture of Faith Is out

SRINAGAR: At an impressive function on Wednesday, the INTACH Kashmir and Roli book on Kashmir’s architecture of faith was released. Carrying two detailed texts, the book documents the fascinating architectural ornamentation that has evolved in Kashmir over the last half of the millennium.

The book Architectural Ornamentation in Shrines & Mosques of Kashmir printed in six colours was jointly released by a galaxy of experts and stakeholders at a function that was jam-packed for most of the two-hour-long event. The event was an INTACH partnership with IUST.

“The book is a compendium gathering photographs, writings and drawings, of the extraordinary architectural elements of Kashmir’s historical khanqahs, shrines and mosques,” INTACH Kashmir leader, M Salim Beg said. “The purpose is to give a sense of the evolving intellectual history about the craft practices and the ideas that inform them, its character, social and cultural properties, its complex relationship with other media, and the great variety of roles it performs.”

Architectural Ornamentation in Shrines & Mosques of Kashmir, a book by INTACH-Roli was launched in Srinagar on June 7, 2022. KL Image: Hilal Shah

The book focuses on the role of arts in the khanqahs, shrines and mosques of Kashmir as they respond to changing economic, political, and historical shifts providing a vivid window into Kashmir’s culture and society. Kashmir traces many of its artistic expressions back to Iran and Central Asia and has over the ages honed its best living traditions of craft and the unique tradition of craftsmanship.

M Saleem Beigh

“One can only wonder at the ways in which materials such as wood, stone and plaster have been transformed into masterworks of decorative art,” Beg said, insisting the book has attempted to place this built tradition in a specific cultural context, where the attention is focused on the delicate details, innovative patterns, and extraordinary motifs that combine to create a unique style. “To make sense of material culture, it is necessary to understand written and verbal representations of it, not as ‘illustrations’, images standing outside it, but as a constituent of its meanings.”

Edited by Qamoos Bukhari, the book draws together narratives from scholars and experts from various disciplines to explicate the meanings, semblance, and significance of an object, or representation, with a particular focus on the intersection of traditions with artistic, religious and cultural practices in the local and wider regions. Kashmir’s respected scholar on Muslim architecture, Hakim Sameer Hamadani has introduced the book and mathematician, Prof Fozia Qazi had dwelt on the geometric of Kashmir architecture in the central Asian context.

The event saw the presence of dignitaries from various fields including VC IUST Professor Shakil Ahmed Romshoo, his predecessor at IUST, Prof Sidiq Wahid, Naeem Akhter, Dr G Q Alaqaband, Shakil Qalander and many others.

Kashmir’s renowned painter and sculptor Masood Hussain made a brief speech before his small documentary Boatman was screened.

Mehran Qureshi, an IUST, Assistant Prof offered his quick brief review. Book editor Qamoos Bukhari also made a presentation.

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