From Kabul to Kandahar - 1833 to 1933

The exhibition at the Royal Geographical Society with IBG reveals the unique and largely undocumented history of Afghanistan and the British presence there, through rare photographs and documentary materials. The exhibition covers the period of the three Anglo-Afghan wars, putting this troubled country’s current events in a historical context. Journals and diaries from nineteenth-century British travellers tell how repeated attempts to invade this fiercely independent and mountainous region have failed and describe the authors impressions of the Islamic land.

Fascinating photographs, drawings, maps and lithographs showing ancient religious sites, ornamental gardens, everyday market scenes, women, royalty and warriors, portray an incredibly rich, diverse landscape, culture and people. Early photographs of Kandahar and Kabul from 1880s show the ravages of war on Afghanistan’s architectural monuments. These include the famous ‘Bamiyan buddhas’, built in the 6th century and destroyed by the Taliban in 2001, which are now the focus of an international restoration campaign.

Afghanistan is brought to life by the photographs, prints and journals of three men - Ernest Thornton, John Alfred Gray and James Atkinson - who spent time in Afghanistan between 1840 – 1900, as either military personnel or within the expat community. Atkinson produced the iconic image (see below) of sword-wielding Afghan tribal warriors hiding in caves in 1842 which echo contemporary western stereotypes of Afghanis. These are placed alongside contemporary commentary provided by members of London based Afghani groups.

The exhibition has been developed and curated in close collaboration with the members of different Afghan and Muslim community groups, from specialist schools and refugee groups to journalists and academics. Community group workshops have allowed modern commentary on the historic items and these have been included in the exhibition.

From Kabul to Kandahar is one of four exhibitions the Royal Geographical Society has developed as part of a wider heritage and education project entitled Crossing Continents: connecting communities, a three-year exhibition and education project that has built partnerships with the Muslim, African, Chinese and Punjabi communities by using the extensive RGS-IBG collections of photographs, maps, books, journals and archive materials to explore the diverse geographical and historical roots of our contemporary society.
From Kabul to Kandahar - 1833 to 1933


Event Title: From Kabul to Kandahar - 1833 to 1933
Postcode: SW7 2AR
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