View of Raja Noor Mohammad Nizami’s collection of rare books, relics and old coins at his house near Taxila. — Dawn
View of Raja Noor Mohammad Nizami’s collection of rare books, relics and old coins at his house near Taxila. — Dawn

TAXILA: Having spent over two decades collecting rare books, relics and old coins Raja Noor Mohammad Nizami’s is a name that can be added to the list of individuals who dedicated their lives to the pursuit of knowledge. Located in a small village near Taxila, Mr Nizami’s residence is home to over 20,000 vintage books covering subjects related to art, music, philosophy, history, archaeology, religion and much more.

“I started collecting books, antiquities and coins when I was in the third grade. This quest for learning runs in my blood and now thankfully, I possess books on almost every topic under the sun. My passion to collect books started when I found unique books in my father’s collection,” Mr Nizami said while talking to Dawn about his collection.

Apart from books, Mr Nizami owns over 3,000 rare and ancient coins from the Indo-Aryan, Greek, Buddhist, Macedonian, Kushan, Mughal, Lodhi and British rule. “Various coins and paper money which were utilised for trading activities are also included in my collection,” he said, while showing off paper currency used in Russia almost 120 years ago.

Mr Nizami said he travelled through Taxila valley, Attock and adjoining historical sites to gather each piece he owns.

Generally, there are two fundamental ways of building a coin collection in Pakistan, Mr Nizami said, adding that the best way to do it is to seek other like minded people from around the world and involve them in an exchange.

The second way is to simply buy the coins from a coin trader. “Due to all kinds of foreign exchange liabilities and lack of convenient international payment options, the second method becomes too expensive for most Pakistanis. So we largely rely on trading coins,” he said, different coins in his collection are valued differently depending on their age, rarity and material.

Besides this, Mr Nizami is an expert of numismatics, history and literature and writes research articles on history, art, religion, archaeology and ancient civilisation in national and regional journals, and magazines. “Sometimes my limited resources have become a hurdle in pursuing my passion,” he confessed.

It is unfortunate that people no longer care for rare books due to the digital media revolution, he said, adding there are very few lovers of literature now for whom books carry value but it must also be noted that nations that forget their roots and history can never succeed.

Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2022

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