Academic journal article Pakistan Historical Society. Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society

The Discovery of Rock Paintings in Sindh

Academic journal article Pakistan Historical Society. Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society

The Discovery of Rock Paintings in Sindh

Article excerpt

Rock paintings have been reported from different regions of Pakistan. They have been found in the Musa Khel region of Loralai District in Balochistan, Buner, Swat, Manshera Districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and Khaplu, and Astor in Gilgit-Baltistan. The earliest specimens of rock paintings are located at Malvi in the Musa Khel Tehsil of Lora Lai District, Balochistan. There are nine rock shelters at this site which depict Prehistoric and Pre-Buddhist paintings (Nasim Khan 2000). They were first reported by Kakar who believes that they are of the Upper Paleolithic Period. Later on, this site was visited by several scholars. Abro (2011) also visited this site and reported that they are not of just one period. He also reports a cave. He believes that the rock paintings of Malvi belong to the Prehistoric, Iron Age, Buddhist and Historic periods. Moreover, he believes that it was first discovered by Abdul Rahman Asodan, a local of Musa Khel, wno reported about the existence of the rock painting to the Pakistan Archaeology Department. Later it was systematically documented by Kakar. Abro visited this site on 14 December, 1997. In an article published in his book (in Sindhi language) on the rock carvings in Khirthar he reports that pictograms of the Buddhist and Historic Periods can also be seen at this site. Some horsemen are shown holding swords and shields (Abro 2011:36).

Nasim Khan believes that the Musä Khel paintings are figurai paintings of animals and human beings painted in red or black on the undressed surfaces of caves or rock shelters. According to him, some of the animals are shown in bi-triangular form, rendering the body in two triangles coalescent at the corner. He believes that this method is typical of the Neolithic Period and Early Bronze Age and is commonly used in the rock engravings of the Upper Indus Valley. The subject matter of the Musa Khel paintings is 'fighting and hunting' representations (Nasim Khan 2000:2003). More rock shelters depicting Pre-Buddhist paintings were discovered by Nasim Khan in the Districts of Mardan and Swabi.He has also discovered some rock shelters which depict Buddhist paintings at Parlai Dab. The most important paintings are those of the inscriptions that are written in Kharoshti and Brahmi characters.

Nazir Khan et al. (1995) also report some painted rock shelters in Thana Valley, Swat. There are four painted rock shelters existing at Käfir Kot namely, Käfir Kot, Shamo, Maraño Tangai and Hinduani Hati, all of which were discovered by Nazir Khan et al. Of these, the most important paintings are found on the Käfir Kot rock shelter which mainly depicts stupas. Nazir Khan (1998:100) also documented the rock painting at Chaghdo in Skardu. This site is located about 20 km. east of Skardu, on the main Skardu-Khaplu Road on the northern bank of the Indus, near the village of Nor. The painting shows a scene of veneration of a stupa complex, consisting of three stupas in traditional Tibetan style. Near these stupas, fourteen persons and three saddled horses are shown.

Buddhist cave paintings were also reported by Nasim Khan (2000) at Kala Tassa in Mansehra. These paintings represent fighting scenes, the jataka (nativity: birth of Buddha) story and drawings of viharas (prayer halls), a stupa (domed Buddhist shrine) with a seated Budhha in dhayana pose and stupas and monasteries together.

More painted rock shelters at Sargah-sar, Kakai Kandao I and Dwolasmanai-Patai were discovered by the Italian archaeologists Olivieri and Vidale (2002).

After presenting this overview of rock paintings in the different regions of Pakistan, I now come to my own discovery of rock paintings in Gadap Tehsil of Karachi district, Sindh that I made on 27 February 2012. However, before discussing these rock paintings, I would like to first mention some petroglyphs in the Gadap region. One finds both petroglyphs and pictographs in the Gadap Tehsil of Karachi. Rock carvings are found at Lähüt (Nai Mol), Rahim Bakhsh Gabol and Maher. …

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