Indonesian embassy to organize ‘Confluence of Civilizations’ tracing historical, cultural similarities between Pakistan, Indonesia

Zubair Qureshi

The Indonesian embassy is all set to organize the first of its kind exhibition tracing historical, cultural and religious similarities between Indonesia and Pakistan.

For this purpose artworks through a selected collection of photographs and videos will be put on display at Lok Virsa during the five day exhibition (July 20-24) titled ‘A Night at Lok Virsa Museum: The Confluence of Civilizations between Indonesia and Pakistan.’

Ambassador of Indonesia Adam M Tugio while briefing the media persons at the Indonesia embassy said during one of his visits to Taxila Museum, he was struck to see the statues of Buddha and other relics of the rich Buddhist heritage showcased at the museum and recalled he had seen the similar statues and artifacts in his country.

Buddhism, he said, had a long history in Indonesia. A Chinese traveller named Fa Hsien reported in 5th century AD that the arrival of Buddhism in the archipelago commenced with commercial activities from the early 1st Century along the Maritime Silk Road.

The roots of Buddhist influence in East Asia are also often linked with the ancient territories of Buddhist rule in ancient Gandhara, which was a region in present-day Northwest Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Buddhist heritage is scattered across Pakistan such as the monastery in Takhti-Bahi-KPK, the Dharmarajika Stupa in Taxila and Amluk Dara Stupa in Swat.

It is believed that the Indian Sub-continent has its influence on the spread of Buddhism in Indonesia, he said.

The existence of many Buddhist monuments, stupas and temples constructed in Sumatera, Java, Kalimantan, including the marvellous Borobudur Temple attested to the spread of Buddhism and Hinduism in Indonesia.

Buddhist art thus will be one of the three main motives tracing similarities between the two cultures, he said. Another important and similar feature traced through the exhibition will be Islamic art, he said adding Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country and despite being located far from the Middle East, around 86 percent of Indonesian population identified as Muslim, posing the question how Islam spreads in Indonesia. The exhibition will answer that question also.

Islam expanded gradually in Indonesia since 13th century through mercantile activity by the Arab Muslim traders, acceptance by local kings, and the impact of Sufism from Persia and South Asia. Again, the impact of Indian sub-continent on the spread of Islam in Indonesia is quite profound. The arrival of Islam in Indonesia is attributed to Gujarati (Indian state) and Indian spice traders, he said.

The spread of Islam in ancient Indonesia reached the peak in the 15th century, attested by the emergence of kingdoms or sultanates ruled by local Muslim leaders, spanning from the western most Aceh (Samudera Pasai Sultanate) to the eastern part of Ternate and Tidore in Moluccas, and from the northern most of Kalimantan to southern most of Java, he said.

The last but not the least feature of the exhibition will be ‘Ancient Civilization’ that both the cultures of Pakistan and Indonesia take pride in.

The ambassador hoped the exhibition would serve the purpose of introducing the similarities of cultures between the two countries and ultimately bring the people closer together.


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