Gandhara relics: Seized artefacts fake, but ‘pieces of art’ to still get museum display

Published: September 1, 2012

A policeman inspects seized antique artifacts, displayed for media at a police station in Karachi July 7, 2012. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: The saga surrounding the seized artefacts supposedly dating to the Gandhara civilisation is about to end. The experts have found the majority of the “relics” confiscated in a July raid are replicas, according to a report yet to be released by the National Museum in Karachi.

While the museum director, Mohammad Shah Bokhari, refused to share the information before it is made public, culture department’s archaeology director Qasim Ali Qasim told The Express Tribune that a good number of the figures were fake. “From what I have come to know, only a handful of them are originals from the Gandhara civilisation,” he said.

Talking about the authenticity process, Qasim said that only the original statues had holes in their base. The sand on the statues was also checked, whether they were buried recently or had been underground for ages. “Mud on the genuine statues cannot be removed easily.”

The committee of archaeologists from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, headed by Dr Farid Khan, who also examined the artefacts in Karachi, concluded that 90 percent of them were replicas.

The report has been prepared by the curator and director of the museum and is expected to be released on Monday.

Around 395 sculptures were seized by the police from a container truck. About 298 of them were said to be related to the Gandhara art, while two depicted Lord Shiva. For several days, the figures were kept at a police station, but were later moved to the National Museum.

Among the statues were large Buddha sculptures with the biggest one – 94 inches tall and 70 inches wide – showing Buddha in meditation with his devotees. According to Qasim, this figure along with all the big ones is fake.

The sculptures would still be displayed at the museum, as they are “pieces of art”, the archaeology director said. Around 95 bronze items, including flasks, horse shoes and vases, from the Mughal era were found to be genuine.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st, 2012.

judge noted, however, that they had failed to produce any evidence from any authority or court to corroborate their claims. “The accused have forcibly occupied the place. Their possession over Daro Joonach/Devri Jo Daro is illegal,” the judgment read.

 

In the hearings preceding the conviction, Judge Soomro ordered two separate inquiries which were conducted by Mukhtiarkar Muhammad Ali Khwaja and Tando Ghulam Ali SHO Salahuddin Rustamani. Both reports implicated the Nizamanis. They mentioned that the site was vacant before the monsoon rains of 2011.

According to Qasim, there are 130 heritage sites in Sindh where exploration and excavation work has to be begin. Devri jo Daro is one of them.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st, 2012.

More in Sindh