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ISLAMABAD: A grand cultural show featuring dances and music by Chinese and Pakistani performers and an art and photography exhibition was held at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) to mark the 71st Independence Day of Pakistan.

A 32-member troupe called the Shaanxi Yulin Coal Sea Art Group from China and the National Performing Art Group (NPAG) presented spectacular dances, songs and instrumental music.

The dances performed by the award winning Shaanxi troupe portrayed life, joy, love and the culture of China and included The World of Agitation, Yangko Harvest and Donkey Run.

NPAG artists presented a dance titled Mehrgarh, depicting one of the oldest civilisations discovered at the Bolan Pass in Balochistan as well as the Sindhi jhoomar, Khattak dance, bhangra and Balti and Kalash dances.

A solo instrumental performance titled Loess Sentiment was given by Zhao Jun. Presidential award winning violinist Raees Ahmed, celebrated Rubab player Gulab Khail and flute player Salman Adil presented classical, folk and popular tunes while Shaukat Ali did a dhol performance.

Usman Raees and the Shaanxi troupe presented a fusion of Chinese and Pakistani vocal and instrumental music on the Rubab, flute, violin and percussion.

Caretaker Information Minister Ali Zafar, Chinese Ambassador Yao Jin and PNCA Director General Jamal Shah inaugurated a miniature painting show titled Ustaad Shagird, containing pieces by Prof Bashir Ahmed at the National Art Gallery.

“This is an acknowledgement of the contribution of Prof Ahmed towards the revival of miniature paintings,” Jamal Shah said.

Prof Ahmed is one of the pioneers who revived the art which did not get recognition till 1982 when he developed a separate curriculum of miniature art and started teaching it as a major subject at the National College of Arts, Lahore.

Bashir’s hard work paid off and he became an acclaimed exponent of traditional miniature painting that had also become victim of the British colonial onslaught on authentic indigenous art and skills, Mr Shah said.

“I am really very glad to see the masterpieces of Bashir Ahmed on display, for the first time in a gallery”, commented noted calligrapher Rashid Butt.

“Prof Ahmed’s contribution to Pakistani art is tremendous but unfortunately couldn’t get recognition. Due to Jamal Shah’s efforts, Prof Ahmed agreed to display his treasure trove at NAG without any insurance,” Amina Pathodi, director of performing arts at the PNCA said.

“Miniature painting provides an artistic variety that hails from the early civilization to present day and has evolved over the years to become a combination of several cultures and traditions,” Prof Ahmed said.

The photo exhibition contained pictures of the land, people, flora and fauna of Pakistan and the cultural diversity of Pakistan.

The exhibition includes works of renowned photographers from across the country and was organised by P-Square, an Islamabad-based organisation.

Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2018