Lok Virsa museum – an insight into culture and tradition


The Lok Virsa Folk Heritage Museum at Shakarparian offers an enchanting journey spanning from the neolithic cultures of South Asia to the present day folk heritage and traditions of Pakistan. One can traverse through several thousand years of history in the space of a walk through the extensive corridors of the museum.
The museum shows the evolution of culture and tradition through the ages, accounting for most of the cultural changes and influences along the way. Every gallery of the museum imparts the essence of a bygone era, replete with the traditions, costumes, jewellery and folklore, and ending with depictions of the present folk heritage of the four provinces of Pakistan. Passing through the gallery called ‘Pottery through the ages’ one sees ancient pottery from thousands of years ago, including artifacts such as cooking stoves and pots, pitchers, plates, and grain containers etc. In the Balochistan gallery, one can almost experience life in rural Balochistan as the mud and stone houses have been recreated and populated with dummy men and women wearing traditional Balochi garb and adornments. These ‘people’ are depicted indulging in different everyday activities, for example a garden hut houses a dummy story teller entertaining listeners, while a Saroz player plucks the strings of a rubab. To add to the environment, Balochi music is played in the galley.
Folk romances stories like Heer-Ranjha, Sohni Mahiwal and Dhola-Maro etc., which have been passed down the generations through poets and story tellers are also portrayed three dimensionally in one of the galleries, with the origins and details of the stories written out on display boards. During Pakistan Today’s visit to this gallery, the Punjabi song ‘sun vanjli di mithri taan vey’ played in the background, infusing the environment with a bittersweet aura.
One of the galleries is dedicated to architecture and wood-work and displays beautiful calligraphy on glass, marble and on wood, while another takes one from the streets of Moenjodaro to the atmosphere of present day rural Sindh.
The shrine culture of South Asia is also paid homage to with small scale recreations of several shrines, complete with small shops selling knick knacks and pigeons dotting the area. Another gallery is dedicated to music and displays the hundreds of different musical instruments played in Pakistan along with the history and classification of each. Cultural influences from China, Iran and Central Asia are also accounted for through separate galleries, and the museum also houses a ‘Reading Room’ which contains extensive reading material.
A shopkeeper in the museum, Sohail Asghar told Pakistan Today that he has had his shop in the museum for two years and a large number of people from different parts of the country come to visit. He said that his sells decoration pieces and that his daily sale amounts to approximately Rs1500.
A visitor, Shamsa- a house wife from Multan, said, “Islamabad is so beautiful and people living here are very lucky as this museum represents the culture of all four provinces, it is like being able to visit these places while still being in Islamabad.” Shamsa’s children told Pakistan Today, “We had heard a lot about the heritage museum, this time we decided to visit and we are enjoying very much as we are learning so much about the culture and tradition of the four provinces of Pakistan.”