Art And Culture

Exhibit of Aqa Malek’s Documents

The special exhibit underway at Malek Museum features photos and documents of historic value and provides interesting information about Haj Hossein Aqa’s cultural and humanitarian activities
Hossein Malek’s sculture, part of a permanent exhibition at Malek National Library MuseumHossein Malek’s sculture, part of a permanent exhibition at Malek National Library Museum

Malek National Library Museum in Tehran has organized a special event to mark its 80th anniversary.

An exhibition of selected documents belonging to Iranian philanthropist Hossein Malek has been held at Malek Museum. Haj Hossein Aqa Malek (1871-1972) was the founder of Malek National Library Museum, ILNA reported.

In 1908, Hossein Malek founded a big library, housing old manuscripts and printed books, in the shrine city of Mashhad, the capital of Khorasan Province (Khorasan Razavi Province after 2004). Later, he moved the library to his historical home near the Tehran Grand Bazaar offering free access to thinkers and scholars.

While collecting the manuscripts, Haj Malek bought a valuable collection of historical artworks that led to the birth of the first private museum in Iran. In 1937, he donated the library and museum to Astan Quds Razavi, the administrative body that manages the shrine of Imam Reza (AS), the eighth Shia Imam, in Mashhad, and the institutions that belong to the organization.

The special exhibit at Malek Museum features historical pictures and documents that provide interesting information about Malek’s cultural and humanitarian activities. From an early age he was interested in books and fascinated by literature, history, Islamic law and religion as well as numismatics and art.

The documents also cast light on the activities of his family members including his father, brother and grandfather. His father was Haj Mohammad Kazem Malek-ol-Tojjar (king of merchants), a title given to his father by Nasser al-Din Shah (1831-1896), king of Iran from 1848 till his death. Malek-ol-Tojjar was particularly influential in trade in Tabriz, capital of Azarbaijan Province (modern day East Azarbaijan Province), and also trade exchanges between Iran and Russia. He constructed the first roadway from the city of Astara in northern Iran to Moscow.

Among the displayed documents are letters exchanged between the members of the Malek family, legal and royal documents, letters to and from persons and legal entities, contracts, agreements, endowment documents, rental agreements, diaries and autobiographies, judicial documents, invoices, receipts, cheque butts, balance sheets and lists of expenditures by the Malek household and library along with photo albums.

The documents and photos cover a considerable period of time from the Qajar Dynasty to the Pahlavi era (1785-1979); but are mostly related to the library and museum. The items on display should help visitors grasp some of Malek’s thoughts and beliefs and his moral principles.

A review of the exhibition can provide an overall understanding of Hossein Aqa’s cultural, charitable and humanitarian activities in Tehran, Khorasan Razavi and East Azarbaijan provinces. The exhibit will run through November 21.

Malek National Library Museum is located at National Garden (Bagh-Melli) near Imam Khomeini Square in downtown Tehran.

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