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Fakir Khana

PAKISTAN | Wednesday, 19 December 2007 | Views [6505] | Comments [2]

Inside Bhatti Gate in the walled city, and just before the remains of the red light district, is the Fakir Khana Museum. Housed in a traditional three story house, and built on the collection of gifts and tributes paid to an advisor of Maharajah Ranjit Singh in the 19th Century, it has remained in the family ever since.

Its present keeper, Saif, is a fifth generation custodian. The collection now sprawls to 13,000 objects and his family has retreated ever further back into ever smaller rooms before the tide of miniatures, artefacts, rugs and antique weaponry.

Saif greets us in a room with low slung couches below curtains of pale silk. Already the walls are covered, and framed pages from illuminated manuscripts stacked on small tables. Every object has a story, he says, from relics that travelled from Damascus to Kashmir to Gujarat to Lahore to rugs with human faces hidden among the pattern work.

He serves tea, and tells us how he dreams of his collection, of the specific damages of time and climate and insect life. He shakes his head at the enormity of the task before him, cataloguing and preserving, but soon smiles with further memories of its treasures.

There is only time to see one room. We climb narrow stairs and emerge in a room with stained glass windows recessed into heavy walls. We gape. Every surface, from floor to well above our heads, is covered with miniatures on paper and ivory, carvings, ceramics and glasswork.

Here the stories multiply, and Saif takes us from object to object, through the various schools of painting [Persian, Mughal, Pahari] and traditional narratives of love, fable and courtly life.

There is a beautiful miniature of a man riding a turtle. A copy, he says, of a Chinese painting on silk that so impressed an emperor that he demanded one in the local style. A sea king, riding below the waves in shades of jade and malachite, ribbons of kelp swirling like a herald before him.

Tags: Culture



As always beautifully written. Where is the accompanying sketch?

  Tamara Dec 22, 2007 2:54 PM


good write up.
Fakir Syed Saifuddin is the museum manager. He sells fake antiques.
and fakir kahana musuem is in a very bad condition
plz ask saif to handle the museum with love and care

  Nabeela Mar 6, 2008 7:43 AM

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