Indus @ the NMP Karachi

New! I made a visit to the National Gallery of Pakistan in Karachi – one of the finest ancient Indus collections in the world – in February 2024, five years after my last visit. Once again I took out my iPhone, as I have done at the Met in NY, MoFa in Boston, The British Museum, the Guimet in Paris and elsewhere.

Can one presume to say that the iPhone of today is as versatile as the hand axe was in the Indus of yesterday? The fruits of its visit to the main Indus gallery are in the slideshow below. Dusty dioramas reach back decades in the galleries, untouched by recent research. But the pieces themselves are indicative of expressive, deeply skilled Indus culture(s), a cornucopia of Mohenjo-daroan delights.

A mobile camera, the only recording device allowed with little opposition in museums today, opens new opportunities for sharing these objects: pieces in the context of other pieces, at weird angles, trying to look at things a little differently than regular archaeological photography. Not to mention finding objects here in Karachi that are barely if at all illustrated elsewhere. A number of objects these objects, we know not to what purpose they existed. Things have also moved around, been taken down or re-appeared since 2019 (the original "priest-king" is still not displayed, replaced by a replica).

This 37 slide show at launch (additions to come) attempts to show the objects in an order liberated from the display cases and standard categories. Images are mostly described in words from Ancient Cities of the Indus Valley Civilization by Dr. Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, as well as quotes from Sir John Marshall, Ernest J.H. Mackay, Dr. Asko Parpola and others.

Nothing is simple when it comes to Indus objects, and there is much room for speculation about these random pieces of a city 4,000 years ago.

- Omar Khan, March 2024