Rediscovering Harappa Through The Five Elements
A special exhibition entitled Rediscovering Harappa: Through the Five Elements sponsored by the Lahore Museum and UNESCO’s International Fund for the Promotion of Culture (IFPC) opened at the Lahore Museum on 21.11.2015. The Punjab Minister for Education, Archaeology and Tourism Mr. Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan was the Chief Guest. The opening was attended by a large number of people from different walks of life and the exhibition continues to draw crowds daily. It is open till the mid of April from 9 am to 4pm daily except Fridays.
Rediscovering Harappa: Through the Five Elements is part of a larger project called Inheriting Harappa. Besides the special exhibition, the project includes an internship programme , an educational programme comprising a public lecture series and a school education programme. Lahore Museum is a partner with UNESCO in the project. The project aims to reconnect Pakistani people with their history and rich heritage. It brings forth the significance and relevance of the ancient cities of the Indus Valley Civilization and promotes the preservation of cultural heritage by exploring the educational dimension of our 9,000 year old living legacy of clay.
This is a very special and a very important time for the Lahore Museum as we have undertaken a labour of love and a project that we believe is our attempt to reassert thee roots of our identity. For Harappa civilization, at its peak 5000 years ago, represents the highest achievements of this region that we occupy today. Culminating into a full-fledged civilization from less developed, however, significant antecedents it spanned an area of 1.25 million km2 at its height encompassing the geographical area of most of Pakistan and up to parts of Afghanistan in the north and to the east and South Uttar Pradesh and Malwan respectively, in India. The civilization demonstrated values, which we today associate with modernism-the values of egalitarianism, civic planning, social responsibility and peaceful co-existence.
The Lahore Museum is lucky to have a sizable collection of objects from Harappa civilization sites particularly Harappa itself, managed by its present in-charge Ms. Aliza Saba Rivi. The collection comprises many of the objects that are characteristic of the civilization such as pottery, figurines, weights and measures, bricks, toys and games and the ever-alluring, ever-elusive seals.
The idea of this project took its inception, so it seems, under the shadow of these silently speaking objects as all those who are part of the project strongly felt the call of Harappa, its resonance within and its relevance to the context in which we live. We decided we wanted to put up an exhibition and related activities based on our Harappa civilization collection-being our oldest civilization and a period of history that has fallen into neglect though it has lessons embedded in it for the present as well as the future.
Dr. Tehnyat Majeed, the curator of this special exhibition, drew a comprehensive plan shaped into the Inheriting Harappa project and submitted it to UNESCO’s International fund for the promotion of culture (IFPC). She was one of the awardees for this prestigious award for the year 2015.
The Lahore Museum has contributed to the project mainly by: providing technical knowledge and expertise; space for the special exhibition, the internship programme , the public lecture series and the educational programme and their allied activities; displaying 291 original objects and more than fifty replicas made by Muhammad Nawaz from its collection of Harappan Civilization and its antecedents; photography and object labelling; transportation; logistical and support services; library and research facilities; publicity; coordination and supervision; and providing around 48 percent of the funding.
The visually evocative special exhibition aims to make Harappa intellectually, physically and culturally accessible to a diverse demographic audience, and juxtapose the ancient with the contemporary - placing two Pakistani potters-Ms. Sheherezade Alam and the late Mr. Muhammad Nawaz- in the archaeological, historical and artistic context of Harappa. Mr. Nawaz, hailing himself from Harappa, made thousands upon thousands of beautiful replicas of Indus Civilization objects and Ms. Sheherezade Alam is a renowned potter whose work is influenced and inspired by the Harappa civilization. Moreover, it features the work of a group of young artists who participated in creating various artworks for the exhibition including a timeline wall mosaic.