Indus Basin Project
Rosewood and Brass Inlaid Cartographic Curiosity
Indus Basin Project Map
Detail Detail
Indus Basin Project
Pakistan: c. 1960s
Rosewood inlaid with brass
14 inches diameter

Decorative rosewood plaque with brass inlay of the Indus River Basin region between India and Pakistan where the Indus Basin Project, a water control project, was implemented to benefit Pakistan in the 1960s. The cartography is simple, featuring the Tarbela and Mangla Dams in Pakistan, and the Bhakra Dam in India. National boundaries are indicated with dotted lines and the rivers with straight lines and arrows showing the direction of their flow. The map is set within a curvilinear decorative border, in the traditional Anglo-Indian taste, with the title at the top.

The Indus Waters Treaty, signed in 1960 by India and Pakistan, allocated rights to the waters of the rivers in the Indus Basin between the two countries. The Indus Basin Project was then undertaken in Pakistan to provide irrigation for agriculture and hydroelectric power. Two main dams were constructed: the Mangla Dam (1961-1967), the 12th largest dam in the world, on the Jhelum River and the Tarbela Dam (1968-1977) on the Indus River. Both dams are still in operation. The Bhakra Dam shown on this map is the largest dam in India and was constructed as part of the Bhakra Nangal Project in that country.

This plaque is handmade -- the scribe lines are visible on the top and bottom of place names -- and is an unusual, possibly unique item, likely made at the time of the project for a dignitary. It falls into the tradition of brass inlaid rosewood decorative arts, dating back to the Regency period of the early 19th century, when India and Pakistan were British colonies.

Condition: Generally very good overall, with the usual overall light wear and minor abrasions to finish. Brass slightly buckled in two very small sections, unobtrusive.