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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Bhong Mosque, Rahim Yar Khan. (Recipient of the 1986 Agha Khan Award for Architecture) (2004-7)

Mosques have always played a vital role in the promotion of Islamic teachings throughout the Muslim world. Symbolically, mosque reflects Islamic culture and its architectural heritage. Having been inspired by the role of the mosques, late Sardar Rais Ghazi Mohammad, a prominent social and political personality as well as the landlord of a large Estate, laid the foundation stone of famous "Bhong Mosque" in 1932 in village Bhong, Tehsil Sadiqabad, District Rahim-yar Khan. This mosque is located at the distance of 200 kilometers from Bahawalpur and is well known for its exquisite design and architectural beauty with gold leaves carved for the intricate decorative patterns and the stylish calligraphic work.

2. In conceiving the Bhong mosque, Sardar Rais Ghazi Muhammad borrowed stylistic elements from monuments in Lahore, Iran, Spain and Turkey and coupled with the western elements. Material and craft applied therein ranges from traditional (teak, ivory, marble, coloured glass, onyx, glazed tile work, fresco, mirror work, gilded tracery, ceramic, calligraphic work and inlay) to the modern and synthetic marbelized industrial tile, artificial stone facing, terrazzo, coloured cement tile and wrought iron).

3. Sardar Rais Ghazi used modern materials freely in the ancillary structure such as the gates, the small mosque and the porch of the large mosque. He applied traditional materials and craftsmanship only to the interior of the mosque. His intention was to represent as many forms of vernacular craft and Islamic architectural features as possible using a combination of traditional and modern materials. Hence the Bhong Mosque Complex represents a monumental achievement in these terms and helps in the revival of traditional crafts.

4. The construction of mosque was carried out by renowned masons and craft men/calligraphers/painters from Rajasthan (India) Karachi and Multan. Over the 50 years of its evolution, the Bhong Mosque Complex has generated jobs and trained approximately 1000 workers and craft men in indigenous crafts. Its construction laid an edifice for socio-economic development and provision of basic amenities of life including market roads, schools, electricity, gas, bank, hospital, post office etc. to the local population.

5. The mosque was initially a Complex consisted of a small mosque but was later converted to a prayer hall and a library for women, madrassa and residential dormitories for students and visitors.

6. In recognition of his significant sole attempt to create a local Islamic Center of learning and building crafts, Sardar Rais Ghazi Mohammad was award the Agha Khan Award of Architecture by His Highness Prince Karim Agha Khan in 1986 at Morocco. In the words of the Jury "Bhong enshrines and epitomizes the popular taste in Pakistan with all its vigour, pride, tension and sentiment. Its use, and misuse of signs and symbols expresses appropriate growing pains of an architecture in transition." The President, Islamic Republic of Pakistan has posthumously conferred upon Sardar Rais Ghazi Muhammad, "SITARA-I-IMTIAZ" on March 23, 2004 on Pakistan Day for his outstanding contribution to the field of Public Service (Bhong Mosque Architecture). Date of Issue (May 12, 2004)