The Women of Nizamuddin Basti: Aga Khan Trust for Culture brings a new light into their lives
"So much changed. When there was a wedding in the family, for the first time I did my own shopping. I felt so good that I didn’t have to ask my father or bother," said Rukhsar happily.
"She isn't married," chipped in Farah from another corner, intending to explain why Rukhsar mentioned 'father and brother', instead of husband. After all, traditionally it is the husband who takes care of a woman’s needs. Not that Farah’s husband has been a great help in that department.
"Hardly anything is left to spend on me madam; after paying for the children’s school fees and ration for kitchen. My husband has a small income," Farah revealed, with extreme reluctance. She doesn’t like to share her story as it brings up bad memories. But today she is financially independent, and is proudly running her household.
Rasheeda has three sons, one of whom has cerebral palsy and is paralysed from the waist down. She was born in Nizamuddin Basti and grew up making and selling needles at the Nizamuddin market. Today, she is a fine crochet artist with the Insha-e-Noor family, earning a salary of Rs 12,000 per month and supporting her son’s health care.
The chief features of Sheesh Mahal are gilt work (placing of pure gold), pietra dura work (inlay of semi-precious stones into white marble), marble perforated screens and the aiena kari (convex glass mosaic work) with monabat kari (stucco tracery)
The Royal Fort of Lahore is one of the extraordinary structures of its kind in the world. Located in the northwest corner of the walled city, the Fort is a mark of its earliest days. Roaming in the Lahore Fort you would listen the stories of love, adventure, beauties and attractiveness of queens and princesses in silk gowns and flowing dresses, Kings and Princes in armors and glittering crowns, warriors, slaves, soldiers, writers, poets, actors, revolutions, court intrigues and courtiers, courtesans, assassinations, castigation, coronations, and much more. Surely these tales would leave you breathless and mesmerised.
At present the administration of the Lahore Fort is again documenting and studying the Sheesh Mahal in consultation with Aga Khan Trust for Culture so the building is conserved and prevented from other threats.
Heritage conservation: Award for Shahi Hammam celebrated
The ‘Award of Merit’ given to Shahi Hammam under 2016’s UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation on September 1 was celebrated at a ceremony at the site in Lahore on Thursday. The work on Shahi Hammam was completed in June 2015. The main objectives of the conservation effort were to re-establish the monument as a bathhouse through the exposure, conservation and display of the remains of the original waterworks and drainage system through archaeological excavation, structural consolidation and restoration of the historic floor levels. Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan CEO Salman Beg said the project was undertaken with a high degree of technical proficiency.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2016.
Shahi Hammam becomes a hub of foreign tourists
The internationally recognised Mughal Era’s Turkish bath site Shahi Hammam has turned out to be the first priority of international visitors and tourists.
Statistics collected by The News revealed that since its inauguration in June 2016 as many as 5,000 international visitors and delegates had visited this site while over 50,000 local visitors including students, corporate entities and government functionaries had visited the site.
The monument had recently received Award of Merit in this year’s Unesco Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) in collaboration with Agha Khan Trust for Culture and with financial support of Norwegian government carried out the conservation of this Mughal-era public bathhouse over a two-year period.
Walled City of Lahore Authority officials said the primary objectives of the conservation effort were to reestablish the monument as a bathhouse through the exposure, conservation and display of the remains of the original waterworks, drainage and hypocaust system through archaeological excavation, structural consolidation and restoration of the historic floor levels.
The main reason why international tourists prefer visiting Shahi Hammam is presence of some other very important historical monuments nearby such as Delhi Gate, Masjid Wazir Khan, Well of Dina Nath and rehabilitated and restored Shahi Guzargah.
The visitors can also witness original city life while touring this area.
Nisar Ahmed, a local shopkeeper, said after conservation business activities in this area have flourished. “I am a seller of handmade mud toys and prior to the conservation and restoration of this area, I was living hand to mouth but now I am earning good as well as my children are also going to school,” he added.
On Thursday (today), WCLA has planned a colorful ceremony to commemorate the Award of Merit during which a plaque will be unveiled by Counsellor Royal Norwegian Embassy (RNE) Arne Haug and DG Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) Kamran Lashari, in the presence of CEO Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (AKCSP) Salman Beg, as well as representatives of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) conservation team that worked on the project.
Tanya Qureshi, media manager of WCLA, said the Unesco Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation programme recognised the efforts of private individuals and organisations that have successfully restored and conserved structures and buildings of heritage value in the region.
A total of 13 winning projects from six countries – Australia, China, India, Iran, Japan and Pakistan – have been recognised in this year’s Heritage Awards, she said, adding a panel of international conservation experts met in Bangkok to review the 40 Heritage Awards entries.
Salman Beg, CEO Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan, said the project has been undertaken with a high degree of technical proficiency and the restoration of Shahi Hammam has safeguarded a unique example of the 17th-century Mughal public bathhouse monument.
The team of international and local experts and artisans adeptly addressed the issues of significant structural damage and loss of fabric resulting from inappropriate alterations, poor conservation work and encroachments, he said.
He added that careful investigation and analysis were done for the conservation, including architectural consolidation and the preservation of frescos and other decorative elements.
Senior Architect, Rashid Makhdum, said Shahi Hammam was the first example of a monument conservation of its kind in Punjab and was the evidence of the success of the partnership between AKCSP and Walled City of Lahore Authority.
The project has also paved the way for similar monumental conservation in other parts of the Walled City, like the rehabilitation of the Chowk Wazir Khan and preparatory documentation of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Lahore Fort as both these projects are being carried out with financial assistance from the US and Norwegian Embassies in Pakistan, he maintained.
DG WCLA, Kamran Lashari, said that the Hammam has now been established as a heritage museum-site that welcomes tourists and visitors from all over the world into the Walled City and is kept alive as a venue for talks, seminars and cultural and corporate events. “Since its opening, the Hammam has been visited by thousands of local as well as international visitors and is increasingly becoming the centre piece of tourism in the Walled City,” he said.
Los tesoros salvados de Palmira
Siria ha intervenido unas 7.000 obras de arte de contrabando en la frontera con Líbano
The treasures saved from Palmira
Syria has intervened some 7,000 contraband works of art on the border with Lebanon
The next step, which, according to sources close to Abdulkarim, is the signing of a reconstruction agreement between the General Directorate, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (sponsored by the agahan, Ismaili spiritual leader, dedicated to the rescue and Preservation of Islamic heritage around the world), Unesco and possibly the governments of the European Union, the United States and Russia. Sources of the negotiations believe that the agreement could be signed before the end of the year, although the return of factions of the IE to the environs of Palmira may call into question the deadlines.
Wu Man and Co, world music review: Group effort is a slow burn
Wu Man brilliantly demonstrated her technique with lyrical melodies, dramatic tremolos and percussive snaps, says Simon Broughton
Wu Man is probably the greatest player of the Chinese pipa, a sculptural-looking lute that dates back 2,000 years and is frequently played by angels in ancient Buddhist frescoes. Dressed strikingly in turquoise, Wu Man played two solo pieces to open this concert. Delicate and intricate, they brilliantly demonstrated her technique with lyrical melodies, dramatic tremolos and percussive snaps.
But this concert, presented by the Aga Khan Music initiative, was titled “Old and New Music from the Ends of the Silk Route” and Wu Man was joined by three Syrian musicians on saxophones, qanun zither and vocals plus Andrea Piccioni on frame drums.
Most of the music wasn’t traditional, but newly composed by sax player Basel Rajoub. So Gypsy Home featured a beguiling web of plucked strings on the pipa and qanun (played by Feras Charestan) with Rajoub adding Jan Garbarek-like decorations. The soft, beautifully focused vocals of Lynn Adib brought a welcome warmth and some brilliant scatting in the final numbers. We needed more of that excitement.
While there was lively interaction between the musicians, the pieces were predominantly slow, introspective and lacking in fire. It was only towards the end that all the musicians played together and realised the excitement of what could be a really creative combination.
NEW DELHI: The profile of Humayun's Tomb has been enhanced. Nearly a dozen other garden tombs in the vicinity of the grand 16th-century Mughal edifice have also been designated as monuments of outstanding universal value by Unesco and recognised as world heritage.
In 2015, one the request of Aga Khan Trust for Culture and Archaeological Survey of India, Unesco included Isa Khan's Tomb, Bu Halima's Tomb and Garden, Afsarwala Garden Tomb and Arab Serai Bazaar as part of the world heritage site. In early this year, AKTC proposed further boundary modification, wh- ich was forwarded by the Centre to Unesco.
ASI and AKTC made a case to Unesco that the integrity of Humayun's Tomb would be compromised without the inclusion of these structures. "Each of these monuments continue the predominant architectural feature of red-white contrast developed at Humayun's Tomb, though the Mughals used lime plaster mixed with marble dust to mimic the more expensive white marble used at Humayun's Tomb," said a conservationist.
Conde Nast Traveller awards the best in travel & tourism
Ratish Nanda, Projects Director of Aga Khan Trust for Culture, who was felicitated for his contribution to heritage conservation, commented, “I receive this award very humbly on behalf of the other contracts for art of conservation community. I think in India we have 1000s of years of heritage and we have all seen what better preserved heritage can do for tourism. At Humayun’s Tomb, we got a 1000% increase in visitor numbers as part of the conservation effort. Tourism and heritage can do a lot more together in a much more sustainable way than what we are doing now.”
Govt. will strive to get Unesco World Heritage Site status for Qutb Shahi tombs complex and Golconda fort, says IT Minister
Minister for Municipal Administration and Urban Development K.T. Rama Rao said that the government would strive to get Unesco World Heritage Site status for the Qutb Shahi tombs complex and Golconda fort. “We will take all steps possible to make it happen. If budgetary support is needed, we will pitch in with that as well,” he said, presiding over the completion ceremony of Badi Baoli, inside the tombs complex.
The Badi Baoli is one of the biggest heritage step wells in Hyderabad and has been painstakingly restored as part of the conservation effort led by Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) aided by Tata Trusts and backed by Telangana Department of Archaeology and Museums.
Aga Khan’s Music Initiative is where cultures combine in harmony and produce music that crosses borders and touches hearts. Witness the fusion of various cultures as instruments play in unison to give you one memorable evening. From Afghanistan to South Africa, Asia to Europe, artists come together to combine sounds and instruments that will result in nothing but a musical wonder.
Asia Society presents a staging by Aga Khan Music Initiative’s All-Stars Ensemble on the theme of “New Music from the Ends of the Silk Route”. This six-artist line up brings together some of AKMI’s most beloved artists-performers from Afghanistan, China, Italy and Syria- for a performance arranged for a unique combination of instruments which represent the Eastern and Western ends of the historical Silk Route as well as ancient and contemporary musical cultures. These include the pipa, an instrument introduced to China in ancient times that originated in Central Asia; qanun, a core member of any Arabic taht; Afghan rubab, considered the national instrument of Afghanistan but also used among Kabuli musicians to perform Indian classical music; tabla, the best known Indian percussion instrument; a variety of frame drums, one of the most ubiquitous instruments in the Muslim world; and saxophone, a European invention that has become a universal instrument used by musicians from South India to South Africa to perform myriad forms of traditional, fusion and contemporary music.
Be a part of this musical journey at The Royal Opera House that holds a glorious past for the music in this city. Bombay was in its glory days in the 1900’s, and at its peak of social, artistic and cultural dynamism. An integral part of this movement was the Royal Opera House Mumbai, first inaugurated by King George V in 1911. It still holds relevance and reverence in the cultural fabric of contemporary Mumbai, and is in fact India's only surviving opera house till date. One of the last standing Baroque buildings in Mumbai today, the Royal Opera House Mumbai, with its long standing association with art, literature, theatre and music and has hosted Operas and live performance of artists like Bal Gandharva, Prithviraj Kapoor, Dinanath Mangeshkar and Lata Mangeshkar.
About Asia Society:
Asia Society is the leading educational organization dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among peoples, leaders and institutions of Asia and the United States in a global context. Across the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, the Society provides insight, generates ideas, and promotes collaboration to address present challenges and create a shared future.
The Royal Opera House
Mathew Rd, Opera House, Girgaon, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400004
The Aga Khan Music Initiative Ensemble presents a rare artistic encounter that both celebrates and reimagines time-honoured musical meetings as the Initiative’s leading artists perform a newly-created repertoire of compositions, improvisations and contemporary arrangements inspired by tradition. This group of music innovators demonstrates the transmission of ancient musical traditions to a talented generation of performers who are developing them in new directions, exemplifying musical creativity that has historically been inspired by the meeting of cultures.
This six-artist line up brings together some of AKMI’s most beloved artists-performers from Afghanistan, China, Italy and Syria- for a performance arranged for a unique combination of instruments which represent the Eastern and Western ends of the historical Silk Route as well as ancient and contemporary musical cultures.
These include the pipa, an instrument introduced to China in ancient times that originated in Central Asia; qanun, a core member of any Arabic taht; Afghan rubab, considered the national instrument of Afghanistan but also used among Kabuli musicians to perform Indian classical music; tabla, the best known Indian percussion instrument; a variety of frame drums, one of the most ubiquitous instruments in the Muslim world; and saxophone, a European invention that has become a universal instrument used by musicians from South India to South Africa to perform myriad forms of traditional, fusion and contemporary music.
AIMIM Floor Leader Akbaruddin Owaisi visited Qutub Shahi tombs and took up detailed inspection of ongoing conservation work.
He was accompanied by Luis Monreal, Director General Aga Khan Trust of Culture, Ratish Nanda, CEO Aga Khan Trust of Culture, Kauser Mohiuddin, MLA Karwan, B. Janardhan Reddy, Commissioner GHMC, Ravi Kiran, Zonal Commissioner GHMC and other officials
It is learnt that Aga Khan Trust of Culture had signed an MOU with erstwhile Govt. of Andhra Pradesh on 9th January 2013 for preserving and developing the tombs as heritage structure and also taking up conservation of landscape and urban environmental rehabilitation in Qutub Shahi tombs and Deccan Park (which is adjacent to the Tombs)
* WCLA in collaboration with Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan completes renovation work * Project was funded by US Embassy
LAHORE: Following the removal of encroachments and completion of its reservation work by the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA), Chowk Wazir Khan is once again ready to amaze tourists with its new expanded and encroachment-free look.
For the past three decades, Chowk Masjid Wazir Khan was facing heavy encroachments especially shops, which were rented out on nominal rates. However, the WCLA initiated the project of rehabilitation, restoration and renovation of this historic chowk. Officials said the historic forecourt adjoining the Wazir Khan Mosque has been undergoing a thorough rehabilitation and conservation effort since October 1, 2015, funded by the US embassy, and is in its final stage of preparation for its opening on March 16.
Music and Voices of the Silk Route celebrate Nowruz at Portuguese Parliament
Lisbon, 2 April 2013 – As part of a week-long programmes celebrating Nowruz, musicians from the Silk Route performing with the Aga Khan Music Initiative (AKMI) presented a specially curated concert programme in the Senate Room of the Portuguese Parliament. Nowruz marks the beginning of Spring, which is a cherished holiday in the Silk Route region. A second concert was performed at the Ismaili Centre in Lisbon on the 27th of March.
The performances included artists from the Badakhshan Ensemble (Tajikistan), classical and folk music from Iran, as well as instrumental and festive music from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as well as a number of other artists. The event was open to the public.
Jointly sponsored by the Committee of Foreign Affairs of the Assembly of the Republic (CoFA) under the direction of President Dr. Alberto Martins, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and the Aga Khan Music Initiative (AKMI), the performance was part of the Aga Khan Music Initiative’s week-long programme entitled Celebrations of Nowruz.
In addition to the concerts in Lisbon, several concert performances, lecture-demonstrations, film screenings and master classes were presented at the Théâtre de la Ville (Paris) on 23 and 24 March, the Scène Nationale d’Orléans (Orléans) on 26 March and at the Cité de la Musique, Marseille, on 27 and 29 March.
The programme, called Music and Voices of the Silk Route, was designed to present audiences with a broad perspective on the richness and diversity of the artistic traditions of the region. The concerts showcased new talents and offered an introduction to the tradition of celebrating the region’s most beloved holiday, Nowruz.
Nowruz, or literally “the new day”, marks both the beginning of spring and of the New Year for many Muslim communities in Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia and elsewhere. It is celebrated on the day of the March equinox, which usually occurs on March 21 or on the previous or following day, depending on where it is observed.
The Aga Khan Music Initiative is an interregional music and arts education program with worldwide performance, outreach, mentoring, and artistic production activities. The Initiative was launched by His Highness the Aga Khan to support talented musicians and music educators working to preserve, transmit, and further develop their musical heritage in contemporary forms. Music Initiative began its work in Central Asia, subsequently expanding its cultural development activities to include artistic communities and audiences in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. AKMI designs and implements a country-specific set of activities for each country into which it invests and works to promote revitalization of cultural heritage both as a source of livelihood for musicians and as a means to strengthen pluralism in nations where it is challenged by social, political, and economic constraints.
Aga Khan drops $25 million gift on University of Alberta Botanic Garden
Published on: April 7, 2017 | Last Updated: April 7, 2017 10:44 AM MD
North America’s largest Islamic-inspired garden is to be built in Alberta, a $25 million gift from the Aga Khan that is expected to attract up to 160,000 visitors a year.
Spanning almost 12 acres, the Mughal garden will become the centrepiece of the sprawling 240-acre University of Alberta Botanic Garden, located about 15 minutes southwest of the city.
Design work on the project began about six years ago after the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, visited the garden and suggested the idea.
Early stages of construction began in the summer of 2016 and the new garden is scheduled to open in time for the Aga Khan’s diamond jubilee celebrations in July 2018.
The University of Alberta is predicting that the Aga Khan Garden could increase attendance from between 60,000 to 70,000 annually to about 160,000.
An overview of the Aga Khan Garden.
Speaking from New York earlier this week, Thomas Woltz, the principal and owner of the 45-person landscape architecture firm Nelson Byrd Woltz, the company behind the project, said the garden was “a complicated site with a lot of different inherent odd geometries twisting through a valley with different small hills.”
So, at the behest of the Aga Khan, Woltz spent a year travelling to similar Islamic gardens around the world to undertake extensive research and to study their form and design.
“That trip is what helped us avoid the sense we were making some historical quotation without a deeper understanding of space, form, scale and what the garden would be made of,” he said.
The Aga Khan Garden amphitheatre.
“The challenge here is how do you have a contemporary interpretation of an Islamic garden that has many of the features we discovered in our research without it reading as a reproduction or anything artificial.
“Our job was to bring a coherent narrative that would capture a 21st century vision of the history of the Mughal garden traditions, Islamic architecture and landscape architecture.”
The dominant feature of the garden will be 16 covered, 18-foot high stone columns at the top of the garden designed to provide shade in the summer and offer some protection from the elements for visitors in the winter.
Stairs will lead down to a large central courtyard, known as a chahar bagh, which is divided by walkways into four grassed areas and surrounded by native plants.
The view looking back up to the top of the Aga Khan garden from the bustan.
On the edge of the chahar bagh will be a terrace floating in a tank of water that links to the Calla Pond that creates a separation between the formal and informal garden.
Flanking the water on either side orchards, or bustans, made up of local fruit trees including apples and cherries, will be dotted around ribbons of walkways.
Woltz said the movement of water around the site led designers to realize that some of the area could be dedicated to native plants and fruit trees.
“Mughal gardens are often thought of as vast pleasure gardens with ornamental shrubs and water features but in our research we realized that the roots of all of the formal language is actually in agriculture,” he said.
Behind the main courtyard will be a wooded walkway, known as the woodland bagh and an open-air amphitheatre.
Traditionally in warmer climates large date palms, olive trees and pomegranate would dominate the garden however the designers opted for more temperate-friendly trees like aspens, cedars and spruce.
Those plants and trees missing from the garden because of the incompatible climates will appear in relief carvings on the massive stone pillars, Woltz said.
Woltz said the garden “has lots of lessons of history and form of the Islamic garden tradition.”
“But the garden from the beginning was not intended to be a garden about faith or religion,” he said.
“The Mughal garden tradition is rooted in agriculture, the pavilions were really more for retreat, meditation, study and pleasure. There was no mandate from his highness to be a religious space or a religious garden.
The look from the top of the Aga Khan garden to the lake and the bustan.
“We read a lot about the fundamentals of Islam and the connection of Islam to ecology … but there was no intent to make this a religious space.”
Dean of Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences, Stan Blade, said the rest of the facility will remain open during construction meaning people can still visit sites like the Alpine Garden, Japanese Garden and the Native People’s Garden.
Blade said once complete they expected attendance to balloon from between 60,000 and 70,000 annual visitors to 160,000.
This project is a continuation of a decade-long relationship between the University of Alberta and the Aga Khan.
In 2006, the university signed a memorandum of understanding with the Aga Khan University and three years later, the Aga Khan was awarded an honorary doctor of law degree.
“This fits nicely into the overall idea of beauty, of culture, of diversity that people are going to be able to experience,” Blade said.
That increased attendance will mean the university will likely have to hire new people to maintain the garden and to be part of their interpretative programs.
Currently there is about 25 to 30 permanent staff and an additional 50 to 60 seasonal staff members.
“The current garden is beautiful… but when you look at this kind of opportunity, we are quite confident that this becomes a destination opportunity.
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