27.03.2012 - UNESCO Office in Kabul

The Mausoleum of Abdul Razzaq and the Ghazni Museum of Islamic Art

Restoration of the Mausoleum first began in 1960 by the Department of Historical Monuments within the Ministry of information and Culture and an Italian team, IsMEO, with a view to making parts of the monument available as a museum of Islamic Art to display artefacts and sculpture from the many historic sites in the local area, namely the Palace of Mas’ud III and examples of exquisite marble tombstones recovered from the large historic commentary in Ghazni’s suburbs. Sadly, as a direct result of the fluctuating security situation over the years,  the building had fallen into disrepair and was threatened by water infiltration, large cracks in the façade and a huge accumulation of debris on the roof from many years of neglect which had put the building at great risk.

Restoration and conservation of the building recommenced in 2008 with a view to installing an exhibition of Islamic Art once again, so that people would be able see and learn about the great periods in the history of Ghazni. In December 2011, UNESCO completed its conservation programme for the Mausoleum in cooperation with the Ministry of Information and Culture and with the generous support of the Italian Government.  The Mausoleum is set to be re-opened to the general public again in 2012/2013, housing archaeological objects from various Islamic periods in the proud history of Ghazni province.

Mr.Omara Khan Massoudi, Director General of the Department of Museums, said that “We hope to install the exhibition in the near future so that the Museum of Islamic Art is ready for the celebration of Ghazni as a Centre of Islamic Civilization for 2013.” Under this project, UNESCO has worked with the National Museum of Afghanistan on developing an exhibition plan for the Museum of Islamic Art and provided all the necessary equipment to the Department of Museums to install the exhibition by the time the ISESCO and Afghan government celebrations begin in 2013.

Mr. Abdul Ahad Abassi, the Director of the Historical Monuments department in the Ministry of Information and Culture believes that the building represents one of the last standing examples of a Timurid mausoleum and has architectural links to Moghul buildings in India. “We are very pleased with the outcome of the last three years of our work to save this important monument in Afghanistan” he said.

Restoration of this building forms part of UNESCOs overall programme to preserve and highlight great Afghan achievements in art, architecture and ideas from all periods of its long history which have significantly influenced the cultures of the region and of the broader world. UNESCO continues its preservation efforts in various provinces including Herat, Jam and Bamiyan, as well as in assisting in the implementation of Government policies to promote and preserve Afghan heritage for future generations.

“Despite great losses to the cultural heritage of Afghanistan through the years of conflict, so much remains of the rich history of this country over thousands of years- from prehistoric times through to the recent past- and our goals are to support Afghan experts working in the cultural heritage field in their endeavours to save this heritage.”said Mr. Brendan Cassar, Chief of the Culture Unit in the UNESCO Kabul Office. He believes that monuments such as the Mausoleum of Abd Al Razzaq are not only important for the people of Ghazni and Afghanistan, but they also represent a significant period in the history of the region and therefore have international importance also.

UNESCO will continue its technical support to Afghanistan to save as many of these buildings as possible, but ultimately, according to Mr. Omar Sultan, the Afghan Deputy Minister of Information and Culture, “the survival of Afghanistan’s tangible and intangible heritage long into the future will greatly depend on the collective responsibility and collective efforts of the government and people of Afghanistan.”

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