KARACHI: In 1968, Russia presented Field Marshal Ayub Khan a copy of the Holy Quran that is said to have been read by Hazrat Usman (RA). This manuscript went on display at the National Museum on Sunday with over 20 other rare copies from across the world, including one with Surah-e-Maryam written on deerskin.
The exhibition has been organised by the Sindh culture department and boasts one copy written almost 1,000 years ago. Three copies of the Holy Quran are written on scrolls and date back 200 years. One copy of the Holy Quran was transcribed on a piece of cloth in the 18th century.
The exhibition is being held for the first time after the devolution of powers. This annual exhibition was previously arranged by the federal government.
“We did not have a place to keep such rare manuscripts but now we have the National Museum. People want to share their contributions and I strongly advise and request them to come forward with their work or antiques,” said Palijo. “It is great work and the government will encourage such efforts.”
Many copies were already in the possession of the National Museum, one or two were given as gifts and the remaining were bought. For instance, a rare copy from Europe, printed in 1694 was acquired by the museum in the 1990s.
The museum has a paper conservation laboratory. If, for example, a 400-year-old manuscript tears at one spot, they get paper from the same time period to patch it up.
Palijo also spoke of a gallery that is being set up in the Sindh Museum of Hyderabad. “We are also establishing the Legend Galleries in Karachi and Hyderabad,” she added. She also highlighted that her ministry was trying to hand over the Hindu Gymkhana to the Hindus. “It is in the possession of an institute and the case is in the court over its possession.”
Indeed, the conversation veered on to the hot topic in the news with Palijo stressing that the people of Sindh were a proud part of the Indus Civilization, which included minorities. “We accept there are certain issues but we are not unaware of them,” she said, referring to recent protests that Hindus were being ignored by elected representatives as they were targeted by kidnappers. “The government is seriously looking at the matter of Hindu migration from Jacobabad and other parts of the province.”
Culture Secretary Abdul Aziz Uqaili told the audience that the museum has rare collections which are not found anywhere else and that the provincial ministry is looking after over 130 historical sites.
The exhibition will continue till August 28.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2012.
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