REVITALIZING CULTURAL HERITAGE

Why to Protect Cultural Heritage?

Cultural heritage whether tangible in the form of ancient sites and historic structures or intangible as in language, beliefs, rituals, traditions, music, dance, folktales and arts, represents historical and cultural development of humanity. Cultural heritage reinforces our identity and who we are as people. In a globalized world, which means homogenization for many, there are people who are more conscious about the role of individual identity in building a richer world. There are nations interested in preserving and celebrating their cultural heritage.

Pakistan is endowed with a rich cultural heritage both tangible as well as intangible. There are hundreds of ancient sites which include mosques, temples, churches, shrines, gardens, tombs, relics, palaces, and other historical buildings. The list goes on to include intangible cultural heritage in the form of its over 60 indigenous languages, oral traditions, folk music and dances, ceramics, jewelry, crafts, metalwork, woodwork, and other forms of arts. Of the 704 cultural heritage sites listed on UNESCO's World Heritage List, Pakistan has six of its sites on the List. These include Archaeological Ruins at Moenjodaro, Buddhist Ruins at Takht-i-Bahi and Neighboring City Remains, Taxila, Fort and Shalamar Gardens, Historic Monuments at Makli, and Rohtas Fort. In addition, UNESCO has submitted 18 other sites of Pakistan on the Tentative List. According to the well-known German scholar Prof. Harald Hauptmann, there are around 30,000 petroglyphs and 5,000 inscriptions in more than 10 writing system along the ancient Silk Road which are largely unprotected.

Federal Antiquities Act 1975 along with the provincial laws, for example, Sindh Cultural Heritage (Preservation) Act 1994, provide for protection of Pakistan's tangible cultural heritage. Even with these laws there are hundreds of ancient sites and historic structures across all provinces and regions that are not catalogued and either have already succumbed to decay or likely to vanish under tremendous pressure from a growing population, illegal encroachments, looting and plunder. Lack of awareness, unplanned infrastructure, limited funds, training and equipment, corruption, conflict and natural disasters like the 2010 floods and the 2005 earthquake are other reasons why cultural heritage is endangered in Pakistan. Silk Road Center's activities under this program component are designed to support the government, heritage organizations and national and international institutions to preserve the cultural heritage of Pakistan and particularly that of the historic Silk Road. The Centre through collaborative ventures and partnerships will work to identify, inventory, document, preserve and revitalize unprotected and endangered ancient sites and historical structures.


Activities

    Silk Road Center's activities under this program component are designed to support the government, heritage organizations and national and international institutions to preserve the cultural heritage of Pakistan and particularly that of the historic Silk Road.

    Tangible Heritage

    The Centre through collaborative ventures and partnerships will work to identify, inventory, document, preserve and revitalize unprotected and endangered ancient sites and historical structures.

    Intangible Heritage

    In the area of intangible cultural heritage, the Silk Road Centre aims to play a vital role in documentation, conservation and promotion of endangered languages, dying craft, oral traditions, traditional knowledge, folk art, epics, music and dance.


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