ISLAMABAD  – Pakistan National Museum of Ethnology, popularly known as Heritage Museum, at Shakarparian nicely projects country’s living culture at the national and international level, as it is not only frequented by Pakistani nationals but also by the foreign delegates and diplomats.

The ethnicity and indigenous culture of each province and region, even the remotest parts of the country has been artistically designed and presented in the museum through three-dimensional creative dioramas and visual presentations.

Talking to media, Lok Virsa’s Executive Director Khalid Javaid said, the museum has been conceptualized, conceived and created by Lok Virsa (National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage), a specialized organisation dealing with documentation and preservation of Pakistan’s cultural heritage.

“Most of the museums in Pakistan are archaeological which are a throwback from colonial times. The National Heritage Museum is the first state museum of ethnology which presents the history and living traditions of the people of Pakistan both from the mainstream and the remotest regions of the country.

A large majority of people of Pakistan live in the villages. Their life is tradition-bound Customs, rituals, ceremonies, beliefs, folk songs and dances form the matrix of their day-to-day sentiments. All this has been tremendously presented in the Heritage Museum, the location of this landmark achievement at Islamabad enriches the federal capital and adds to its attractions, he added.   

Responding a question, ED Lok Virsa informed that the primary purpose of the museum is to educate and aware present and future generations of Pakistan and to create a treasure house for the nation more valuable than the vault of any bank in the world. “This is a museum for the people of Pakistan, who are the real bearers of our cultural traditions, which make Pakistan truly great”, he maintained.

The museum has a covered area of 60,000 square feet featuring exhibit halls, making it the largest museum in Pakistan. The main display halls include antiquity and continuity, ethnic tribes, thematic exhibitions & artisans-at-work, ballads and romances, Sufis and shrines, musical heritage, textile and embroidery, jewellery and metal work, architecture and wood work.

The museum also presents “link passages” depicting similarities and affinities of Pakistan’s cultural traditions with neighbouring and friendly countries including Iran, China, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.

The museum is regularly visited by VVIP, VIP delegates, dignitaries and state guests apart from students, researchers, scholars and general public. In order to inculcate awareness among youth about their indigenous folk culture showcased in the museum, “Friday” has been declared as “student day” where students are allowed free access to the museum facilities which include creative displays, heritage library housing rare materials and manuscripts on Pakistan’s culture, museum conservation laboratory, etc.

Explaining details about the history of Pakistani culture, Khalid Javaid who is also a renowned folklorist and museum expert, said, “Pakistan is a developing country and not highly modernised or industrialised. Curiously, under-development has its blessings. One great advantage of being under-developed is that Pakistan’s folk culture is still a living tradition practiced by a dominant majority of its people. Pakistanis therefore do not have to go looking for folklore, it is all over. In fact, it is a common place that an average rural Pakistani may have no awareness whatsoever of his folkloric culture and the richness of his folk heritage, just like the fish in water.”

Pakistan’s traditional culture has evolved over great length of times. Though living, it has great antiquity. It links back to the ancient Mehergarh civilization flourished from the Baluchistan province more than 9000 years ago. Indus valley civilization of Moenjodaro and Harappa of 5000 years ago and the Gandhara (250 BC) are all acquainted with. Our traditional culture is therefore deeply rooted and extends over many centuries.