An exhibition featuring 27 artefacts, commemorating great female artists and royal family members of South Asia, went on display at the permanent painting gallery of the Lahore Museum late Friday evening.
The artefacts, which were selected from the museum’s reserves and galleries over the last month, aim to celebrate women from South Asia on the occasion of the International Women’s Day.
Uzma Usmani, the curator for the ‘Woman, O Woman’ exhibit, said this was the first time that the Lahore Museum had exhibited artefacts showing the role of women through historic events relevant to present-day India and Pakistan.
The oldest artefacts on display are statues of Athena, goddess of wisdom in Greek mythology, and Harati, the goddess who protects children in Buddhist mythology, from the second century.
Six textile pieces from the museum’s ethnological gallery show off bothni mirror and embroidered borders of a Cholistani tie-and-dye chadar and gindi patchwork, Swati phulkari silk with geometric patterns and Kashmiri needlework, representing the work of skilled craftswomen. Clay models depicting South Asian women weaving fabric from the early 20th Century are also exhibited.
Some paintings taken from museum reserves include works by Indian artist BC Sanyal, who is known for his depictions of rural women; Bengali artist Zainul Abideen, famous for his paintings showing the famine in 1940s Bengal, now Bangladesh; Zubeida Agha, the first artist to hold a solo exhibition after the creation of Pakistan in 1947; Anna Molka Ahmad, the founder of Punjab University’s fine arts department, now known as the School of Art and Design, in 1940; and artist Amrita Sher Gill, a Hungarian-Sikh who died in Lahore in 1941 aged 28 and whose art is regarded as national treasure by the Indian government. Anonymous miniature paintings of women, believed to date back to the 18th Century, are also exhibited.
Portraits of Zaibunnisa, daughter of Aurangzeb, and Queen Mary, and coins, minted in 19 Century to honour Ranjit Singh’s wife Moran Sarkar, and some minted in the 11th Century under the reign of Razia Sultan, India’s first Muslim female ruler, represent women rulers related to the Indian subcontinent.
Hina Jillani, chairwoman of the AGHS legal cell, inaugurated the exhibit, which was attended by over 500 visitors. The event was also attended by Sardar Sham Singh, the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president, Punjab University’s Professor Sardar Kalyan Singh, Pakistan Hindu Association president Amar Nath Randhawa, and actors Nadia Jamil and Madeeha Gauhar.
The artefacts will stay on display till the first week of April.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 10th, 2013.
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