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Gandhara art exhibition to promote Pak-China shared heritage: Fareena Mazhar

BEIJING:The Pakistan-China joint exhibition on Gandhara art and culture being held here in Palace Museum will help promote the shared heritage and enhance people-to-people contact between the two countries, Federal Secretary, National Heritage and Culture Division, Ms. Fareen Mazhar said.

More than 173 Gandhara artefacts collected from different museums of Pakistan were showcased at the three-month-long exhibition jointly organized by the Palace Museum and Department of Archaeology and Museums of Pakistan, and supported by Pakistan Embassy Beijing, she told reporter.

Underlining the centrality of this exhibition as a landmark event in the cultural cooperation between the two countries, she expressed the hope that the event would be beneficial not only to the general public but also to Chinese scholars and professionals to understand the cultural heritage of Pakistan.

"This is the first exhibition in China that we have done, so we're very proud of that and we hope to do more in the future," Fareena Mazhar said and adding that on the basis of this exhibition, extensive cooperation in cultural relic protection and personnel exchanges between China and Pakistan will be carried out, which will contribute more to the friendship between the two countries.

To a question about the exchange of scholars from both countries, she informed that Chinese scholars can visit sites in Pakistan and scholars from Pakistan can come and visit China.

"The Chinese side has also offered us to train our experts and they want us to send our boys and girls for getting this expertise," she added.

Fareena Mazhar noted that maybe they can have some time in the Palace Museum to see all the beautiful things that they have heard and learn more advanced techniques to preserve relics.

The exhibition displays 203 artifacts, of which 173 come from seven museums in Pakistan and 30 from the Palace Museum. The exhibits fully demonstrate the artistic charm of Gandhara culture and its far-reaching influence in China and East Asia.

As early as 100 BC, China opened up the Silk Road, which promoted the prosperity of Chinese culture and also built a bridge of friendship between the two ancient civilizations of China and Pakistan, Wang Xudong, director of the Palace Museum, said at the opening ceremony of the exhibition.

Gandhara is the ancient name of a region in northwest Pakistan. Archaeological sites for this culture mainly dot across the southern end of Hindu Kush and Karakorum.

According to historical records, between 400 and 630 AD, ancient Chinese monks and pilgrims such as Faxian, Song Yun and Xuanzang visited the area, leaving records of Gandhara's material culture that later became crucial historical sources for the study of the early history of Pakistan.

With active and continuous exchanges and mutual inspiration along the Silk Road, Gandhara showed unparalleled vitality and creativity and had a profound impact on the spread of Asian civilization.

According to Wang, Gandhara Buddhist art, which originated in the Kushan Empire, entered central China through the Silk Road via what is today's Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and the Hexi Corridor, promoting the development of early Chinese Buddhist culture and art.

Swat, Kashmir and Gilgit art, influenced by Gandhara art, crossed the western part of Southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region and entered the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau of China, which provided sustenance for the development of Tibetan Buddhism art after the 10th century, experts noted.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative. The Palace Museum, as an important bearer of 5,000 years of Chinese civilization, will further become a cultural meeting place for the exchange and mutual building of civilizations, Wang said.

"We are honored that Pakistan can co-support the exhibition and provide a platform to showcase the intimate relationship between the two countries," he noted.