Picture Wall of Lahore Fort
Picture Wall of the Lahore Fort – the largest mural of its kind in the world would be restored to its original glory. Architectural survey and documentation is underway to make the work plan. Eighty percent of the ongoing work has been completed and by end of June this year, the assigned team of Agha Khan Trust for Culture Pakistan (AKCS-P) would publish a comprehensive report after which preservation and restoration work would start. The architectural survey is being conducted by AKCS-P in collaboration with Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) with the support of Norwegian Embassy. Documentation work on the 1,450 ft long Picture Wall also called exterior wall with an average height of 50 ft, that lies from north to west, started on September 1st of 2015, under ‘Lahore Fort Picture Wall, documentation, presentation and promotion’ project with the aim to complete the task within one year or less. It runs from Elephant Gate (Hathi Pol Gate) to Jahangir’s Quadrangle of Lahore Fort. The Picture Wall has 116 mosaic pictures, depicting life and style of Mughal emperors, pictures of animals, birds, battles, hunting of deer with hounds and the dance and music of the royal court. It is in fact the only Moghul building that has images of dragons, which were never thought to be in the imagination of people of sub-continent but of China and countries of Pacific Rim. All the images on the wall tell The Picture Wall contained world’s fresco tiles, mosaic paintings, and made up of the base of terracotta which could be rarely found elsewhere. It is pertinent to mention here, Picture Wall was the reason behind inclusion of Lahore Fort into World Heritage Monument in 1981 by UNESCO. 3D laser scanners were used for the first time to conduct the study while, ‘total station’ an electronic measuring device was also used to examine the minute details of Picture Wall.
Technical study of the picture wall comprised:
- Conduct survey and documentation of western section 350’ x 50’ using EDM & Photo rectification techniques
- Investigation to study damage pattern
- Survey to establish the original construction
- Conduct physical studies to test original material
- Propose restoration of Picture Wall
After the completion of documentation and prototype conservation was carried out on a panel of picture wall. This prototype included the conservation of 45-feet high and 30-feet wide panel on the western segment of the Picture Wall. The selected panel reflects all types of surface decorations found on the Picture Wall. Work on the prototype was carried out between February and December of 2017 and included six international missions to Lahore comprising microbiologists, surface conservators and material scientists from Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France and Sri Lanka. In reviewing the prototype panel an International Conference / Workshop on Picture Wall Prototype was held in 2018. The workshop and conference aimed to facilitate a dialogue on the way forward. During the three days of the workshop a brief introduction of future plans for Lahore Fort including Picture Wall was given, an overall presentation scheme for the Picture Wall with some details of the scientific aspects of conservation were explained. Experiences of the conservators were shared with the participants. Conceptual and philosophical framework, methodology and procedures adopted for this preservation were discussed. The participants were given a tour of Lahore Fort in electric cars, they also visited Royal Kitchen, quadrangles and other parts of Fort. Introduction to the multi-disciplinary effort and documentation approach for the Lahore Fort and the Picture Wall was explained and discussed. Conservation approach for the Picture Wall in the context of Lahore Fort- the prototype conservation project Principles and Methodologies for the Conservation of the decorated surfaces were also shared. The purpose of this collaborative effort was to review the work carried out on the prototype on a panel of the Picture Wall and to generate professional discussion on a framework for further intervention. The Authority in partnership with Aga Khan will soon start the conservation of the entire picture wall as per the international standards and guidelines discussed in the Conference / Workshop on Prototype of Picture Wall.