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Mosques By Razia Grover, Lustre Press/Roli Books (Pvt) Ltd
A historicist extravagance with traditional form and decoration, as in the Bhong Mosque, Pakistan
Located in a village of about five thousand inhabitants, the Bhong Mosque in the Punjab region is a work of pure craftsmanship. No architect was employed to design this mosque, modelled on the Mughal architecture of India. It was a labour of love, conceived by a wealthy landlord in 1932 and completed by his son, Rais Ghazi Muhammad, in 1983.
The mosque was planned as part of a larger infrastructural development project for the village, which would include building roads, providing electricity, irrigation and public transport, and generating employment. The mosque and the library occupy an elevated and focal position in the building complex, which includes three large residential areas and a madressah. The house of the founding family of Rais Ghazi is part of the complex. An earlier smaller mosque that stood on the site is now used exclusively for women.
Minaret-towers, capped with jharokhas and cupolas, buttress the mosque on all sides. The actual minaret on the southeast is only two storeys high. Three domes, elaborately ornamented with Multani tile work, surmount the mosque and library. In the profuse ornamentation of both the interior and exterior of the mosque with tile and mirror work, gilding, painting and calligraphy, the craftsmen have excelled in the use of a variety of materials — ivory, onyx, mother-of-pearl and even industrial tiles. The decorative motifs used are equally extravagant, being largely Mughal and Multani but also colonial. The Bhong Mosque reflects the flamboyant visual culture of the region, where trucks and rickshaws, books and clothes display brilliance in colour and design.