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Islamic Art in a Sikh Shrine

Detail of marble floor at the Sikh shrine of Panja Sahib in Hasan Abdal, Pakistan. Once again we have the all-popular Islamic eight point star with typical Mughal-style patterns (the chevrons are classic Mughal). The work, however, looked fairly recent to me and is not from the Mughal period. This is a fine example of the sharing and fusion of art and design in South Asia across the religious communities. They have more in common than they think!


This shrine is important to Sikhs because of the supposed imprint of the hand ("panja" in Punjabi) of Guru Nanak in a stone preserved here. Guru Nanak (1469 – 7 May 1539) was the founder of the Sikh faith and is revered as a mystical man of considerable piety across the faiths.


"NO PHOTOGRAPHS" said the notice board when I entered this holy place! BUT since I was a special overseas guest, I was allowed to take some shots:-) I'm grateful to the well-known Pakistani columnist Kamran Shafi for arranging the tour and for always making my brief visits so memorable.

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Taken on April 21, 2004