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Dir Museum Chakdara

Dir Museum Chakdara

Dir, situated in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of Pakistan, is one of the most important regions, both historically and culturally. Its territories stretches between 34° 22' and 35° 50' North and 71 ° 02' and 72° 30' East and mainly comprises the terrain drained by the Panjkora river and its affluents. Dir takes its name from the name of a village, Dir, which served as capital of the state during the Nawabs era. It has District Swat in the East, Bajaur on the West, Chitral on the North and Malakand Agency on the south.

The history of Dir goes back to at least the 2nd millennium BC, which is testified by the excavations of numerous burials of Aryans at Timargarha and other places, dating from 18th to 6th century BC. The Aryans were followed by the Achaemenians, who were ousted by the invasion of Alexander in 327 BC, though he faced great difficulties in subjugating the local population. Greek historians have paid great tributes to the population, the army and the queen of Massaga, an ancient site near the modern Ziarat village, located between Chakdara and Timargarha. After the Greeks, the area witnessed the Gandharan Civilization, which achieved great fame. This period is signified by the presence of the monumental remains of the Buddhist stupas and monasteries, a few of which has already filled the museum at Chakdara.

Dir occupied an important position as a center of Gandhara Art. Pilgrims and historians have defined Gandhara, (the land of fragrance and beauty), as "the area to the west of Indus and north of Kabul rivers which included the valleys of Peshawar, Swat, Dir and Bajaur, extending westwards to Hadda and Bamiyan in Afghanistan and Taxila Valley in Punjab in the east". The region of Dir is therefore littered with the remains of the Gandharan Civilization and Dir Museum, Chakdara, offers a fine and unique collection of Gandharan Art. The Department of Archaeology, University of Peshawar undertook a few important archaeological projects in Dir during 1966-1969 and excavated various archaeological sites. To house the collection from the area, the then State Government of Dir, constructed a museum in Chakdara. Capt. Rahatulah Khan Jaral, the then Political Agent of Dir Agency, proposed the construction of the Dir Museum and allocated a sum of Rs.2, 50,000/- for its construction. The Provincial Government afterwards allocated an additional fund of Rs.4, 90,000/- for the construction of residential quarters, boundary wall, guest house, storage and other facilities in the museum.

The museum building was designed by Mr. Saidal Khan, Consultant Architect of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Public Works Department. The designer, while designing the museum, kept the local style of architecture in mind and constructed it of bare stone, called Malakandi stone, an architectural element common in the area and reflecting the strength and dynamism of the locals. The museum has a fort like appearance with a grand facade, consisting of an arched entrance, two square corner picket-towers and battlements on the parapet.

The museum remained a state museum till 1969 and when the state was merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the museum was handed over to the provincial government. The provincial government constituted a Board of Governors under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Educational and Training Ordinance 1970 to run the affairs of the museum. Lt. General Azhar Khan, the then Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa laid the foundation of the museum on 20.9.1970. Lt. General (Rtd.) Fazl-e-Haq, the then Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa inaugurated the museum on 30.5.1979. The purpose of the museum is to exhibit the archaeological, Islamic and ethnological collection of the area, including sculptures, coins, jewelry and weapons etc.

Gandharan Gallery

Dir museum has a total collection of 2161 objects, with more than 1444 Gandharan pieces. The Gandharan art pieces in the Dir Museum mainly come from the sites of Andan Dheri, Chat Pat, Baghrajai, Bumbolai, Jabagai, Shalizar, Ramora, Tri Banda, Macho, Nasafa, Damkot, Bajaur and Talash, Dir, Malakand, Balambat, Timargarha, Shamlai Graves, Inayat Qila, Shah Dheri Damkot, Gumbatuna, Jandol, Matkani and Shalkandi.

The collection of this section includes the themes of Buddha's pre-birth and life stories, miracles, atlants, individual standing sculptures and stucco heads.

Ethnological Gallery

The Ethnological Gallery of the museum was established in 1977 with 498 objects and includes weapons, jewelry, embroidered dresses, ceramics, musical instruments, household objects, furniture and wooden architectural elements.

Embroidery Work

The embroidery work comprises the articles made of cotton, silk, wool, gold and silver thread. The objects and their use reflect on old and proud tradition of the various Pathan tribes living in the frontier areas of Pakistan. Embroidery is a favorite folk art among the women and the material used is hand spun and woven cotton. The house ladies in addition to their work are exceptionally skilled to produce astonishing pieces of golden and silken embroidery. Generally the embroidery is done on black cloth with multi colored silken threads in beautifully matching combinations. The designs so drawn on clothes are either floral or geometrical. The dori work or braid embroidery, is very effectively displayed on woolen Choghas (long coat) and Swati blankets. The woolen shawls with designed border especially for ladies are indeed excellent. The hand bags and table mats are also ranked among the five specimens of embroidered art. Other articles include ladies shirts, children cap, hand purse etc with black ground enriced with lining in red, green, yellow and white colors.


The human interest in self-adornment is shrouded deep in antiquity. In ancient times people were tempted to wear Jewelry made of shell, bone, semi-precious stones, the ornament of silver and gold were used especially by women folk of the aristocratic class or any other material available to them.

There is a good collection of jewelry in Dir Museum Chakdara. It contais rings, necklaces, wristlets, necklaces, waste bands, anklets, hair pins, pendants, bangle and short band and buttons etc.

House Hold Object

The house hold objects used by the Pathan tribes comprise carved wooden low chair, wooden containers, spoons, milk churner, weaving operators, clay lamp, wooden spoon and glasses.


The weapons displayed in the ethnological gallery are produced in different tribal areas. These weapons were used by the tribesman against the opponents in the event of war. The use of most of these weapons speaks about the courage and the valiant qualities of the Pathan tribes. The collection of weapons includes swords, daggers, guns, machine guns, muzzle loaded guns and powder pouches etc.

Musical Instruments

The musical instruments used by the locals displayed in the museum comprised of Rabab, Sitar, Surney, Tablas, and Tambourine etc.

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