Wazir Mansion, the Quaid's birthplace

    Written by: Sadeem Shaikh
    Posted on: December 24, 2015 | Post your comment here Comments | 中文

    Antique furniture that belonged to the Quaid - Wazir Mansion Karachi - The Birthplace of Quaid-e-Azam

    Antique furniture that belonged to the Quaid

    In a cramped and populous street of the Kharadar area of Karachi stands a resolute, three-storey structure known as the Wazir Mansion, which is Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s birthplace. Locating a building even as popular and historically significant as this one is no easy task in Kharadar; the area is arguably the city’s oldest residential and now commercial hotspot. Built by Wazir Ali Ponawala sometime between the years 1860-1870, the Wazir Mansion is believed to have been Jinnah’s home for the first 16 years of his momentous life. In 1874, his parents, Jinnah Bhai Ponja and Sakina Bano, moved to Karachi from their home in Kathiawar, Gujrat, India, and rented a two-room apartment in what is now the Wazir Mansion. Two years later, they gave birth to the founder of Pakistan.

    Jinnah received his education from the Christian Missionary Society High School and the Sindh Madressatul Islam University, before flying off to England to study Law. Soon afterwards, his family moved out into a more affluent bungalow near what is now the Metropole area of Karachi. After the partition of the Indian subcontinent, the Government of Pakistan and the Department of Archeology and Museums contributed ceaselessly towards the maintenance of this historical landmark. While some genuine features may have been lost over the decades due to the harsh weather of Karachi and the natural process of decay, the concerned authorities have nevertheless worked hard to ensure the preservation of this revered monument.

    The Quaid's various belongings

    The Quaid's various belongings

    Situated adjacent to Akhund Masjid off M. A. Jinnah Road, the 150-year-old landmark enunciates striking features of colonial architecture. Constructed originally with lime-colored stone masonry and jute mortar, the exterior of the current structure reveals the same yellow, sandstone spark. The entrance of the museum used to have a fountain, but due to renovation needs, it was removed some time ago. According to museum librarian Tanveer, “The ground floor of the building was also converted into a reading room after the government takeover in 1948, with a library featuring books on History, Politics and Law”. Some examples of these include Jinnah Faces an Assassination (1943) and The Idea of Pakistan (2004).

    Upon entering the first floor gallery through a set of wooden stairs, one is astounded to find the entire floor air-conditioned in the cold month of December. When inquired about the seemingly unnecessary air-conditioning in peak winter time, the museum guide, Khadam Ali, was keen on explaining how a cold atmosphere was in fact necessary all year round to help preserve the original nature of Jinnah’s books, couches, bed set and furniture.

    Wazi Mansion Karachi – The Birthplace of Quid-e-Azam

    The first floor has three rooms, with the first one containing a set of couches. The weary nature of the furniture reveals the agedness of the items. The second room includes two bookshelves, as well as the Governor General’s brown polished chair and table. The bookshelves include centuries-old documents and compilations of appeal cases, statutes and law reports. Dating back to the early 1870s, these books were personally collected by Jinnah, and were referred to during countless court processions and cases. The third room consists of the Quaid’s birth bed, a set of faded white couches, and a dressing table. However, the maintenance of these deteriorating belongings of the Quaid remains a major problem, one that is becoming increasingly worrisome for museum authorities. As the furniture and clothes of Jinnah have evidently started to deplete, Khadam Ali woefully explains how “It’s a miracle they (the archeological department) have preserved these items for the last 60 years – I do not know for how long this can go on for”.

    The second floor of the museum is a single room, arranged with glass containers holding several of the Quaid’s other belongings. These include some letterheads, a glass ink stand, a yellow notebook, an emersion radio, a smoking pipe, an ashtray, a fancy brass inkpot, and Jinnah’s characteristic turtle bone optical frame. In a separate container, some of his churidar pajamas and kurtas are displayed in their truest form – the fadedness and stains on the clothes serve as proof of their genuineness. At the farthest end of the room is Ruttie Jinnah’s furniture set, consisting of a mirror, a few guest room chairs and a table set. Ruttie Jinnah was Quaid-e-Azam’s second wife, most notably recognized for a love letter she wrote to Jinnah towards the end of her life in 1928. The second floor also features shoes, coats, ties, white stiff collars, and a mini-Quran that belonged to Jinnah.

    The government-sponsored ground floor library

    The government-sponsored ground floor library

    Given the tremendous dedication required to preserve longstanding monuments, the Wazir Mansion serves as a living embodiment of the rich history surrounding the creation of Pakistan. It also goes to show that this country was founded by a highly gifted and selfless individual. In that regard, it becomes our duty to not only familiarize ourselves with the momentous life of Quaid-e-Azam, but also to revere, idealize and live by it.

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