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Afghanistan Observed

A unique exhibition of historic images of Afghanistan has been put on show in Kabul. The exhibition under the title of Afghanistan Observed which is displayed in the famous Babur Gardens of Kabul is organised by the British Library in London in partnership with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. The collection will also be shown in the city of Herat.

Afghanistan Observed reflects the observations of European visitors to Afghanistan between 1830 and 1920. This was a period during which Afghans’ relations with the outside world was critical not only for the country and region, but for the superpowers at the time.

The exhibition features 150 digital prints of sketches, prints, drawings and photographs that relate to the history and culture of Afghanistan, selected from the British Library’s collections.

Afghanistan has long exerted a powerful attraction over outside observers. While much of this material was produced in the course of generally ill-fated military incursions onto Afghan territory in the nineteenth century, the artists and photographers concerned did not restrict themselves to recording military subjects. They also responded with lively curiosity to the people, landscapes and culture of Afghanistan.

This material represents a unique visual record of Afghanistan’s culture, people and landscapes, little of which is presently available in Afghanistan. At the end of the exhibition, the digital images displayed will be given to the National Archives in Kabul to ensure that this valuable resource for the study of Afghan history and culture is available to future generations of Afghan researchers.

In this multimedia report, John Falconer, Curator of Afghanistan Observed and Head of Visual Materials at the British Library, explains the historic importance of this unique collection. 

Source: The British Library

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