The opening reception for “Land of Lapis lazuli and Gold: Afghanistan in the Collections at Duke University Library” is scheduled to take place in front of the International & Area Studies exhibit case, on the second floor of Bostock Library, on Duke’s West Campus, on Thursday, 3 February 2022, at 2-4pm.
This public exhibit is an attempt to offer a different perspective on Afghanistan’s history through the holdings from Duke University Libraries. While the sobriquet the “graveyard of empires” has recently gained primacy in discussions about Afghanistan, the reality is vastly different. Over its long history, this mountainous south-central Asian country has actually been the cradle of a number of great empires, such as the Ghaznavid (Afghanistan), Timurid (Iran), and Mughal (India).
The country literally sits atop one of the world’s largest reserves of various metals and minerals, including gold and lapis lazuli. Many of Afghanistan’s most important cities were once significant spaces for commerce as well as intellectual exchange, particularly along the fabled Silk Roads.
Culturally, Afghanistan has been the home for some notable persons such as Rumi, the 13th-century Persian Sufi mystic, who is still one of the most widely read poets in the world. Moreover, while Afghanistan has become a predominantly Muslim country, there has always been a plurality of religious thought, from Buddhism to Christianity to Judaism as well as Zoroastrianism.
“Land of Lapis lazuli and Gold: Afghanistan in the Collections at Duke University Library” is curated by the interim librarians for South and Southeast Asia from the library’s International & Area Studies Department and dedicated to the South Asian studies specialists who have helped to build Duke’s collection on Afghanistan.
This public exhibit will run from December 1, 2021 – December 31, 2022.