Heritage arts: Rediscovering Harappa

Exhibition takes one through the five elements


The exhibition featuring antique Harappan artifacts will continue till April 2016. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS

LAHORE: Rediscovering Harappa—a special exhibition put together by the Inheriting Harappa Project and the Lahore Museum commenced on Saturday.

The exhibition features antique Harappan artifacts from the museums collection and the work of ceramist Sheherezade Alam and deceased potter Muhammad Nawaz.  All praises at the exhibit’s opening ceremony, Archaeology Minister Rana Mashhood said he was really excited about the event. He said the government was collaborating with the museum and the Archaeology Department on Harappa. “The nation is replete with archaeological treasures,” he said. Mashhood said the government had been working on historically mapping the Punjab for the first time. “The government procured the Harappa land in 2012, 66 years after the initial archaeological finds there. A boundary wall will be erected around it in a few months,” the minister said.

“It is a very special time for us at the museum. The exhibit is an attempt to reassert the nation’s identity,” Lahore Museum Director Sumaira Samad said. Samad said it was the museum’s good fortune that it possessed a sizable collection of Indus Valley Civilisation artifacts.

“A striking quality of Harappans one learns about after studying the artefacts is their humility,” Inheriting Harappa project director Tehnyat Majeed said. She said Harappa had no glorified heroes, no palaces, no ostentation.

“In a way, one sees a mirror image of themselves, their history and heritage when they look at the artifacts,” Alam said. She said the exhibit was a long-cherished dream of hers. “I can’t believe that the children who see the exhibition will not be moved by it,” Alam said.

The exhibition has a flow to it, a current that takes one through the five elements—starting with earth and concluding with ether.  “It was the death of Nawaz that made me realise that no one was left now to preserve Harappa. I feel I inherited his mantle the moment I realised this. My work always incorporates some Harappan elements in it,” she said.

Alam said Majeed and her had decided after she met her to work with the museum to pay homage to Nawaz. Alam said they had retrieved his 20-year-old pieces that had been gathering dust in the museum’s reserve for the exhibition. She said after viewing Nawaz’s work Tehnyat had applied for a UNESCO grant. Team Harappa created a three-month internship for students after securing the grant where children were able to learn about Harappa and create all the art that can also be seen at the exhibit. The exhibition will conclude in the middle of April, 2016.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2015.

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