South of Kabul, if you take Darulaman road down toward Darulaman Palace, you will find a true national treasure of Afghanistan. That treasure is the National Museum of Afghanistan.
The lower, darker part outlines the rubble that was all that was left of the original museum. It is amazing to see how extensive and nice restoration has been.
Once the repository of thousands of displays of incalculable value, it has been looted repeatedly and now is but a shadow of its former self. However, due to the heroic actions of concerned Afghans, many of the most valuable pieces were protected from the depredations of the Warlords and then the Taliban.
An original locomotive from King Amanullah’s time. One of only two locomotives until the present day.
I visited it with a good friend and colleague of mine not that long ago, and thoroughly enjoyed our visit. Out of the artificats that are still remaining, many or on loan to other museums, but still, the things that are there are phenomenal.
A Buddha recently unearthed from Mes Aynak
They even have a display on the very recently discovered artifacts at the Aynak copper mine. Every westerner needs to see that place, if they visit Afghanistan.
A carving of a Nuristani woman
While we were there, we saw a display of Nuristani wood carvings. They were extremely beautiful and intricate, but the one thing that caught our eye were a series of beds which were carved according to ancient Nuristani custom. It is important to know that Nuristan was not Islamic until Abdur Rahman Khan forced them to convert in the 1890s.
Two men, embracing on their wedding bed-post
The Nuristani custom were for a specially carved bed to be presented to a married couple on their wedding night. The carvings were realistically representation of the new couple. We looked through several of them and then friend Nawab stopped me and showed me a special one. It was a carving of not a man and a woman, but of two men.
Evidently the Nuristanis had a rather Bohemian (no pun intended) outlook toward marriage.
Various bronze oil lamps
The Museum is beautiful, well-kept and looking good.
For more information about the National Museum of Afghanistan, please visit their website.
It is a little known historic resource of Afghanistan, and I wished it were better accessed and featured. The story of how it was rescued from first the warlords and then the Taliban is amazing.
Afghanistan’s historical significance in the development of human society is too important to be forgotten or ignored.