Afghan Heritage Preservation

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Afghan Heritage Preservation

Afghan Heritage Preservation

Over many thousands of years, Afghanistan has been the home of many civilizations and different religions. Its rich historical culture has played a great and important role in the heritage of humankind. Over many generations, Afghanistan has attracted the attention of many historians, archaeologists, and an endless variety of scholarly researchers. Unfortunately, the economic, social, and cultural foundations of this country have been subject to tragic abuse and destruction over two decades of war and civil unrest. As a consequence, the country's cultural heritage has suffered irreversible damage and loss. (Dupree, 2007, pp 50-54)

An innate sense of the essence of their culture sustained Afghans through 24 years of conflict and displacement. Although they continue to cherish the diversity of regional differences, individuals cling tenaciously to their national identity, upholding traditional values and customs that distinguish them from their neighbours. From the beginning of the twentieth century, attempts to foster unity through nation-building activities in mostly urban areas met with mixed success; the latest attempts to cast Afghans in a puritanical Islamic mould met with disaster. Years of discord stretched taut the fabric of the society and national traits once honoured hallmarks of the culture were compromised. Yet the fundamentals of the culture remain strong, changed in some ways but readily recognisable as uniquely Afghan. Current expectations aim to engage various cultural elements as bonding vehicles to hasten reconstruction and strengthen peace. (Dupree, 2007, pp 50-54)

Afghanistan's canvas is small: in area about the size of France and in population barely 25 million. Nevertheless its terrain is spectacularly varied, with mountains rising over 7000 metres, broad rivers feeding fertile valleys alternating with inhospitable deserts. Travelling around this landscape is difficult, for roads are sometimes so poor that neither horse nor donkey can climb the precipitous trails. Thus, individuals often live and die in their home valleys unaware of others around them.

But first, what is meant by culture? For the purposes of this discussion culture embraces those shared ideas, beliefs, emotions and customs that mould behaviour and place value on creative artistic expressions in such fields as art, music, literature and architecture. It defines the way people live, the way they utilise both material and non-material resources. The measure of being cultured in Afghanistan, where close to 90% are non-literate, need not be equated with being well read. Those who observe the rules of accepted behaviour and follow the prescriptions of etiquette are highly respected. Moreover, because of vibrant oral traditions many non-literates are well aware of their heritage.

The cultural variations evident among individual pieces of the ethnic mosaic add richness to the overall culture. Many are vestiges of other cultures introduced from adjacent countries at various times during their long history(Dupree, 2007, pp 50-54)

The rehabilitation of Afghanistan's cultural heritage is one of the main priorities of the Government of Afghanistan and the international community. The challenge to rehabilitate the country's endangered cultural heritage is overwhelming, requiring significant mobilization of international and national support for the Afghan ...
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