History smuggled out

06 Jan 2014 12:12 PM | Anonymous

History smuggled out

A REPORT by the archaeology department, cited by Dawn in a news story last week, says a consignment of antiquities intercepted last February, contained a mix of Gandhara and Islamic art objects besides pottery from Balochistan. While the production of fake relics, with an “art value” of their own is something of an industry in the country, what was disturbing about this consignment was that out of 1,155 relics, more than 1,000 probably worth tens of millions were found to be genuine.

Relics from Pakistan, a repository of archaeological treasures from different periods, are a part of the booming antiquities trade, much of it illegal, in both West and East. Sculptural pieces of Buddhist art from the Gandhara era are notable for the huge amounts they fetch, often to the tune of thousands of dollars, and sometimes far in excess of the expectations of auction houses.

But art objects from this era are not the only ones to find their way to the international market. “There is an international network that knows what the demand is; they are clued into what buyers want, from swords from a certain Islamic period, to Gandhara sculptures,” says art critic Niilofur Farrukh


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