Transcultural Traverses: Placemaking Practices at the Makli Necropolis in Sindh, Pakistan

AHA Session 42
Friday, January 3, 2020: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Gibson Room (New York Hilton, Second Floor)
Neelam Khoja, Yale University
Death, Identity, and Architecture: Constructing Identities at the Makli Necropolis
Munazzah Akhtar, University of Engineering & Technology, Lahore
On the Move: The Role of Mobility in Making Makli
Fatima Quraishi, University of California, Riverside
Perambulatory Visions: Recasting History in the Makli Necropolis
Shayan Rajani, Lahore University of Management Sciences

Session Abstract

The Makli Necropolis, located in Sindh, Pakistan, is a vast ten square kilometer site, which saw monumental construction between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries by successive rulers of Sindh based out of the adjoining city of Thatta. Today, Makli, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is cast as a source of pride for being a unique cultural heritage of the region of Sindh and has increasingly been reimagined as the heir of a continuous and coherent local cultural tradition. This panel looks at the making of Makli at different moments in its history: the construction of its earliest funerary monuments under Samma rulers beginning in the fourteenth century; the building projects of subsequent Arghun, Tarkhan, and Mughal rulers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; and the much later conservation efforts by local scholars in the twentieth century. Rather than understanding it as a site where a regional cultural tradition was constituted, the panel attends to the global framework within which Makli was constructed, both materially and representationally. The global circulation of materials, practices, ideas, people, and institutions from the medieval to modern times has, we argue, been crucial to shaping and reshaping this site. This panel explores place-making as a locus of practices constituted out of transregional engagements.

Each paper in this panel focuses upon different chronological periods in the history of the necropolis and engages with a variety of architectural, artistic, and literary materials. Munazzah Akhtar examines the funerary monuments of the Samma rulers (r. 1351-1522), the only extant material remains of this local dynastic polity, in order to recover details of the culture and religion of this group. Fatima Quraishi explores artisanal practices at Makli and Thatta in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which connect the region with working methods first documented during the Timurid period (1370-1507) while also demonstrating the importance of locally embedded artistic traditions in cultural production. Shayan Rajani moves forward in time to the twentieth century when scholars and conservationists reconstituted Makli as a historic and cultural heritage site.

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