LAHORE: A unique exhibition titled ‘Paper Jewels’ displaying early postcards from Pakistan opened at the Salam Hall of the Government College University here on Thursday, as a curtain raiser to the 5th Faiz Festival which will open at the Alhamra Art Centre, The Mall, on Friday (today).

The exhibition comprises the personal collections of historian Omar Khan. Its a selection from early 19th and 20th century postcards that highlight Pakistan’s landscapes, built environments and cultures through the British Empire’s vantage. These postcards aim to provide the visitors with an intimate look at a bygone era and contextualise Pakistan’s history. It is jointly curated by FS Aijazuddin and Omar Khan.

Faiz Foundation Trust (FFT) chairperson Saleema Hashmi told Dawn: “The Trust chose time to commence the festival this year with spotlight on Faiz, the GCU and history. The historical component was provided by ‘Paper Jewels’, Early Postcards of Pakistan – an exhibition of 19th and early 20th century postcards from the collection of Omar Khan who lives in California. The GCU, the Old Ravians union collaborated with the FFT to mount this stunning show which includes postcards of people, places, architecture and cultural events since the invention of photography.”

She said around 200 rare images were put on display, with wall texts describing the backgrounds. The historic Salam Hall, which was restored in recent years, witnessed many important moments, including Faiz’s first mushaira, she added.

She said Omar Khan’s father, an eminent Ravian, Dr Munir Ahmed Khan, who graduated from the GC in 1946, later became head of the Atomic Energy Commission and a president of the Old Ravians union in the 1970’s.

Speaking at the inauguration of the exhibition, Ms Hashmi said holding the event at Salam Hall was an immense privilege as the wonderful venue had witnessed many historical moments. However, she added, it was the first exhibition being held there. She thanked GCU Vice Chancellor Dr Asghar Zaidi for making it possible.

Mr Omar Khan said postcards were ‘Instagram’ of those times.

VC Dr Zaidi said, “We are privileged to have this exhibition at the GCU.”

Faqir Ajjazuddin said the postcards on display were of great value since these belonged to a specific age. He termed the postcards timeless and historical.

The postcards on display were divided into different categories such as Eid Cards, Village Cards, Old Lahore, Balochistan etc.

The exhibition will remain open till Nov 29.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2019