07.08.2018 - UNESCO Office in Kabul

UNESCO introduces the Minaret of Jam exhibition

Minaret of Jam exhibition ©UNESCO/UNAMA

Within the scope of the Afghanistan’s National Programme for Culture and Creative Economy (NPCE), the Afghan Government and UNESCO have inaugurated the exhibition, “The Minaret of Jam” presenting the documentation of decades of works on the monument, one of the two World Heritage Sites in Afghanistan.

The 3D survey of the Minaret done in 2017, during a joint Afghan Government-UNESCO mission is shown for the first time to the public, alongside and in counterpoint to the drawings and photo-documentation elaborated during the 1960s and 70s by the Italian architect Andrea Bruno, which constitute the first known scientific survey of the Minaret. 

The opening ceremony was held at the Italian Embassy in Kabul, in clear recognition of Italy’s continued contribution to the safeguard of this prominent site ever since its rediscovery in the ‘50s. After the inauguration, the exhibition will be moved to the Pavilion of the Babur Gardens in Kabul. 

Built in 1194 at the command of Sultan Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad, Sultan of the Ghurid dynasty at its zenith, the minaret is a testimony to the prosperity attained in Afghanistan and its Islamic culture. A remarkable engineering feat, the minaret rises to a height of 65-meters from a 9-meter diameter octagonal base and embodies an outstanding level of artistic and technical creativity. This graceful structure is known to have influenced the construction of the Qutb Minar in Delhi, the tallest brick minaret in the world. 

The Minaret of Jam is located in Ghor Province, Afghanistan, 200km east of Herat, at the confluence of the Hari Rud and Jam Rud rivers. The minaret’s isolated location may have prevented the monument from wilful destruction and vandalism in the past; however, now, its seclusion complicates the execution of stabilization works and the long-term maintenance of this heritage site. The safeguarding the Minaret presents important challenges and requires the collaborative efforts of the Afghan Government, of UNESCO, and of the international community. 

This need for collaboration was emphasised during the opening ceremony of the exhibition. During the opening ceremony, H.E. Ambassador Roberto Cantone has emphasized as “despite the challenging security situation, we are glad to host the exhibition at the Embassy. It is important to say that the wealth of Afghanistan’s heritage and the challenges it faces require the collaborative support of all concerned by such an important endeavor.”

H.E. the Minister of Finance, Dr. Mohammad Humayun Qayumi, mentioned that, “as Chair of the Steering Committee of the NPCE, the Ministry of Finance, and the Government of Afghanistan, believe that the promotion of our culture and history will consolidate the process of nation building.

In response, Ms. Patricia McPhillips, the Director and Representative of the UNESCO Office for Afghanistan, commented on the collaborative effort of NPCE in her remarks stating,  “The accomplishments achieved including this exhaustive documentation on the Minaret of Jam in the past year was only possible with the strong belief and direct support of the Afghan Government and the international community.

By presenting an exhaustive documentation, the exhibition leads the visitor through the structural perfection of the Minaret and the beauty of its interior and exterior brick work and decorations.

In order to provide a venue more easily accessible to the public,  the exhibition will be moved to the Pavilion at Babur Gardens where it will remain open from the 9th to the 25th of August.

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