Exhibition of facsimile prints on Mughals Arts, Culture and Empire held in Kabul
This exhibition is based on an earlier exhibition of Mughal treasures entitled ‘Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire’ shown at the British Library in London. The exhibition, which ran from the 9th November, 2012 to 2nd April, 2013, was largely based on artworks and objects from the British Library Collection, with added loans from other art institutions and private individuals.
‘The Mughals: Art, Culture & Empire’ exhibition is organized by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the British Library, and is supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy, as part of the Afghan Cultural Initiative, and will be on show at the Queen’s Palace in Baghe Babur for the public on the 13th of May to 25th of June, 2013. The display features a selection of facsimile prints from the British Library collections, originally part of the exhibition at the British Library.
The British Library, the national library of the UK, serves business and industry, researchers, academics and students, in the UK and worldwide. Its collection includes well over 150 million items, in most known languages, with 3 million new items added every year. The Library holds manuscripts, maps, newspapers, magazines, prints, drawings and photographs, music scores, and patents. It receives a copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland. Treasures include the Magna Carta, Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook, the Times first edition from 18 March 1788 and the recordings of Nelson Mandela’s Rivonia trial speech. The library was originally a department of the British Museum, and became a separate entity in 1973. For more information on the BL’s activities please visit www.bl.uk
Aga Khan Trust for Culture
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) focuses on the physical, social, cultural and economic revitalisation of communities in the Muslim world. It includes the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme, the Aga Khan Music Initiative in Central Asia, the on-line resource ArchNet.org and the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Museums & Exhibitions unit coordinates the development of a number of museum and exhibition projects. AKTC’s initiatives in Afghanistan have focused on the physical rehabilitation of some of the country’s most important historic sites, including Baghe Babur in Kabul, the Iktyaruddin Citadel in Herat, and the Noh Gunbad mosque in Balkh. Coupled with socio-economic and upgrading activities in historic quarters such as the old cities of Kabul and Herat, the program has contributed to improving the living and economic conditions of thousands of residents in some of the most impoverished communities in these cities. For more information on the AKDN/AKTC’s activities please visit www.akdn.org
Baghe Babur Trust
Kabul Municipality, the Ministry of Information and Culture and AKTC signed a tripartite ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ in 2008 to establish the independent Baghe Babur Trust. Tasked with the overall responsibility of effectively managing and maintaining the site, the 75 full-time staff of the Trust have ensured that Baghe Babur remains accessible to the more than 2.6 million Afghan and international visitors since 2008 and that revenue collected through visitations and the hire of facilities is reinvested towards the operation of the site – resulting in the financial self-sustainability of the operations since 2010.
The exhibition is organized in 8 sections: (1) Founding the Mughal Empire, (2) The Mughal Emperors; (3) Life in the Mughal Empire; (4) The Art of Painting; (5) Religion; (6) Literature; (7) Science and Medicine; and (8) Decline of the Empire.
Section 1 begins with a print depicting Babur’s great defeat of the Sultan Ibrahim Lodi of Delhi at the Battle of Panipat in 1526, and the Battle of Kanua in 1527. Section 2 continues with a print showing the 14 Mughal emperors sitting with their common ancestor, the great Central Asian ruler Timur. Also on display are a number of fine miniatures of the ‘Great’ and ‘Later’ Mughal emperors, from the Empire’s founder Babur to Bahadur Shah II.
Section 3 highlights courtly life in the Mughal Empire, from politics to leisure, and includes a print of the 1761 Battle of Panipat, a miniature depicting Babur’s Garden, and Mughal architectural styles.
Section 4 shows the development of Mughal artistic styles from early miniatures to European-influenced painting styles. The exhibit features illustrated manuscripts of Hafiz’s poems, paintings by Behzad and other distinguished artists of the Mughal Studio, and folios of the celebrated Dara Shikoh Album.
Section 5 features a number of fine illustrated religious manuscripts. On display is a print of the holy Qur’an written in different styles of calligraphy dating from the 16th century and poetry by the Sufi Mullah Shah, originally from Badakhshan.
Section 6 includes a printed excerpt of the earliest known dated manuscript of the Baburnama written in the Turkic language Chaghatay, and pages from Bedil’s ‘Irfan.
Section 7 highlights observations of wildlife and scientific developments in the fields of astronomy and medicine. It includes a 17th-century world map, the Jantar Mantar observatory in Delhi and a section of a 12-m long route map from Delhi to Kandahar featuring the Kabul river and Ghazni.
Section 8 shows the gradual dissolution of power and the end of the Mughal Empire. On display is a photograph of the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah II, awaiting trial in the Red Fort for his part in the Uprising of 1857.
The exhibit concludes with an impressive panoramic view of Delhi.
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