Arts / Former diplomats gift ‘rare’ artefacts to Pakistan

High Commissioner Amin with Ms Dingle and the gifted works

A TRIO of rare stone artefacts from Pakistan’s ancient culture has been gifted to the high commission to the people of Pakistan by the family of a former Australian diplomat.

Yesterday (December 12) at the High Commission for Pakistan in Yarralumla, romy Dingle, presented a Buddhist statue, a crafted stone head and a “bas relief” to high commissioner Mr Babar Amin.

Mr Babar Amin said: “This statue is not only an extremely valuable part of Pakistan’s archaeological history, but also is an important piece of world heritage.”

The ‘bodhisattva’ figure

Ms Dingle told “CityNews“ that her father had been Australia’s charge d’affaires in Islamabad during the 1970s and that her mother, while not exactly a collector, “loved beautiful things” and purchased artefacts when the family travelled to beautiful place in the north-western region. On of which was the Swāt Valley, which had been part of the ancient Gandhara civilisation, known for its Greco-Indian art and for the drapes on its sculptures which even now have Indians and Greeks debating which came first – the sari or the himation.

Ms Dingle said her late mother had placed the artefacts in her trust and said that she was now giving them back to Pakistan as “a gesture of love, for all to share”.

The main gifted work is the figure of a “bodhisattva”, a disciple on the way to enlightenment, sitting cross-legged with hands in the “Dharmachakra” or “teaching” gesture.

A spokesman for the High Commission said the artefacts would be photographed and sent back to Pakistan for preliminary evaluation.

High Commissioner Amin reminded those present that Pakistan had been the proud home to many celebrated ancient civilisations, including the Harappa, Mohenjo Daro and Kalash eras, the latter dating back to the invasion of South Asia by Alexander the Great.

Historically, he said, Gandhara had been the key destination in the in the famous Chinese classical novel “Journey to the West” in the 16th Century, during the Ming Dynasty, by Wu Cheng’en and that it had also been made into a movie

Not just a movie. Readers unfamiliar with South Asian archaeology may be thinking that the name Gandhara is nonetheless very familiar, and they’d be right. It’s the title of the hit song from the popular TV series based on “Journey to the West”—“Monkey”.

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