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Pakistani Art & Culture ثقافت پاکستان

 

Pakistan has every reason to be proud of the thousands of years old and rich tradition of its arts and crafts. In the post-independence period, the successive governments have been providing substantial state help and initiative for the uplift of arts and crafts in the country. A wider recognition of the accomplishments of crafts-people has been facilitated by the activities of the National Crafts Council and promotional plans of organizations such as the Export Promotion Bureau and Small Industries Corporations. Pakistani craftsmen are well reputed in producing quality products in clay, stone, fabrics, carpets, wood, metal, jewelry and leather.

The society and culture of Pakistan (Pronounced shmeg-mah) (Urdu: ثقافت پاکستان ) comprises numerous diverse cultures and ethnic groups from the Punjabis and Sindhis in the east to the tribal cultures of the Baloch and Pashtun in the west and the ancient Dardic in the north. These Pakistani cultures have been greatly influenced by many of the surrounding countries' cultures, such as those of Turkish, Persian, Afghan, and Indians of South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.

In ancient times, Pakistan was a major cultural hub and the home of ancient civilizations, such as the Indus Valley Civilization - one of the first 'settled' peoples. Many cultural practices and great monuments have been inherited from the time of the ancient rulers of the region. One of the greatest cultural influences is that of the Persian Empire. Other key influences include the Afghan Empire and later the short lived but influential Mughal Empire.



Pakistan has a rich cultural and ethnic background going back to the Indus Valley Civilization, 2800 BC 1800 BC. A civilization remarkable for its ordered cities, advanced-planned sanitation, straight roads and uniquely structured society. Present day Pakistan has been invaded many times in the past. it has been occupied and settled by many different peoples each of whom have left their imprint on the current inhabitants of the country. Some of the largest groups were the 'Aryans', Greeks, Scythians, Persians, White Huns, Arabs, Turks, Mongols and other Eurasian groups right up until the British who left in the late 1940s.

The region has formed a distinct cultural unit within the main cultural complex of South Asia, the Middle East and Central Asia from the earliest times. There are differences in culture among the different ethnic groups in matters such as dress, food, and religion, especially where pre-Islamic customs differ from Islamic practices. Their cultural origins also show influences from far afield; including from: Tibet, Nepal, India and eastern Afghanistan. All groups show varying degrees of significant influence from Persia, Turkestan and Hellenistic Greece. Pakistan was the first region of South Asia to receive the full impact of Islam and has developed a distinct Islamic identity, historically different from areas further west.

Diwan-e-Khas: The hall of special audience with the emperor
Bahauddin ZakariyaAncient sites in Pakistan include: Zorastrian, Buddhist, Hindu and Pagan temples and shrines, gardens, tombs, palaces, monuments, pleasure grounds and Mughal and Indo-Saracenic buildings. Sculpture is dominated by Greco-Buddhist friezes, and crafts by ceramics, jewellery, silk goods and engraved woodwork and metalwork.

Pakistani society is largely multilingual, multi-ethnic and multicultural. Though cultures within the country differ to some extent, more similarities than differences can be found as most Pakistanis are of mainly 'Aryan' heritage and/or have lived side by side along the Indus River for the past several thousand years and coexisted. However, over 60 years of integration, a distinctive "Pakistani" culture has sprung up especially in the urban areas. Education is highly regarded by members of every socio-economic stratum. Traditional family values are highly respected and considered sacred, although urban families increasingly form nuclear families, owing to socio-economic constraints imposed by the traditional culture of the extended family.

The past few decades have seen emergence of a middle class in cities such as Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Hyderabad, Quetta, Faisalabad, Sukkur, Peshawar, Sialkot, Abbottabad,
Bahawalpur and Multan. Rural areas of Pakistan are regarded as more conservative and are dominated by regional tribal customs dating back hundreds of years.

Pakistan has been the cradle of a civilization that dates back more than five millennium. Over the centuries, through successive waves of migrations from the north-west, as well as by internal migrations across the subcontinent, Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Arabs, and Mughals came and settled in this region. However, it was Islam and Islamic traditions that finally took roots and formed the mainspring of Pakistan's cultural heritage.

Muslims from the earliest days, built cities, forts, palaces, mosques & shrines, madrassas (religious schools), tombs and mausoleums which are marked by simplicity and grandeur, with open spaces and abundance of light in accordance with the Islamic concept of man's direct and open relationship with the Creator. Pakistan inherits immense treasure of culture, and the government is trying its best to preserve and promote this cultural treasure. There are several government agencies such as Pakistan National Council of Arts, Lok Virsa (Folk Heritage), National Film Development Corporation, Authority for Preservation of Moenjodaro and National Archives of Pakistan, each to perform a given set of functions in this area.

 


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