Commonwealth nations celebrated to mark the Glasgow Games
The literary, artistic and political life of the Commonwealth is being celebrated at the National Library of Scotland as the 20th Commonwealth Games are about to begin in Glasgow.
Items representing all 53 countries in the Commonwealth have been selected from the Library's vast collections for a special display that is now open. They include books, photographs, sketches, maps and manuscripts and illustrate the diverse cultures and histories of the Commonwealth's 2.2 billion inhabitants.
The items range from:
- A hand painted 18th century Indian roll containing diagrams and mythological figures of Indian astrology
- A sketch of the Brimstone Hill Fort in St Kitts and Nevis built with slave labour — it is a testament to the innovative skills of British engineers and a poignant reminder of the human tragedy of slavery
- A 1930s photograph of a group of Canada’s Cree Indians — this is part of the papers of John Buchan, the author of 'The 39 steps' who served as Governor-General of Canada from 1935 to 1940
- An historic issue of the 'Pakistan Times' reporting the election of Benazir Bhutto, the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan and thus the first female leader of a Muslim state
- Late 19th century sketches of Africa drawn by Scottish missionaries and explorers
- A biography of the international pop star Rihanna who was born in Barbados.
In 1954 the Commonwealth of Nations contained just eight sovereign, independent states. Since then borders have changed, countries have been renamed and nations have gained independence. Now, in 2014, the Commonwealth contains 53 sovereign, independent states.
The display, 'Voices of the Commonwealth: Diversity, identity and culture', looks at material produced by the indigenous peoples of the Commonwealth and reflects the colonial heritage and the links with Great Britain.
Manuscripts Curator Maria Castrillo and International Collections Curator Dora Petherbridge said: 'Items created by missionaries, explorers, and colonial officials sit next to the work of Indian astrologers, Nigerian novelists and Ghanaian revolutionaries. In this way we have sought to show the manifold nature of the Commonwealth, which in turn reflects the diverse collections here at the Library as they span the colonial past and Commonwealth's.'
'Voices of the Commonwealth: Diversity, identity and culture' is on at NLS on at George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, until September 8. Entry is free.
17 July 2014