— Dawn
— Dawn

LAHORE: Almost 60 per cent of the conservation work on the mural (Picture Wall) — a principal feature of the Unesco World Heritage Site of Lahore Fort — has been completed, say officials.

The landmark project includes the stabilisation and consolidation of the picture wall’s structure as well as its decorative elements. The conservation of almost 60pc of façade of the wall along with the related drainage, Shah Burj Gate and Naulakha Pavilion has been completed.

The project is being carried out in collaboration with the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) and with the generous funding from the Royal Norwegian Embassy, the Embassy of Germany, and the Punjab government. The remaining part of the conservation would complete by December 2022, officials in the WCLA told Dawn.

Established as the world’s largest mural, it is exquisitely decorated with glazed tile and faience mosaics, embellished brickwork, filigree work and frescos. The work on it began during the Mughal period in the reign of Emperor Jahangir in AD 1624 and completed under Emperor Shah Jahan’s reign in AD 1632. It is 450 meters long and 17 meters high and seen right there as you enter the Lahore Fort.

Each individual mosaic gives an insight into the life and entertainment in the royal courts, such as battle scenes, royal portraits, mythical creatures, dance and music and geometric patterns. These unique elements became the principal reason for the Lahore Fort being declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1981.

The wall is embellished in cut glazed tile mosaic work, fresco paintings, filigree brickwork, cut & dressed brickwork, imitation brickwork in painted plaster and has a variety of pigeon houses. The glazed tile panels are exquisitely decorated with imagery of royal pastimes, hunting, battle scenes, angels and demons, human figures, animals, birds, as well as geometric and floral patterns.

Officials said the Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan began the documentation, presentation and promotion of the picture wall in September 2015. Three years later, the organisation together with the WCLA took up the conservation of the western façade of the picture wall which is almost 240 feet long and 50 feet high on average whereas it consists of 635 decorated recessed panels composed on three levels and is most decorative and embellished.

Over time, the decorations of the wall deteriorated owing to environmental effects, water penetration, neglect, and inappropriate interventions.

Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2021

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