Contents of the ‘Aiglemont’ category in chronological order.

Preface to ‘The Museum of the Horse’ edited by Philip Jodidio (Aiglemont)

I have become convinced that the human and economic action implied in the conservation or rehabilitation of cultural heritage is closely related, no matter where they occur…. The renewal or restoration of a place of culture always implies the necessity of considering the economic potential destined to ensure the sustainability of the effort in the long term. The concept is simple. The complexity lies in the need to develop a strategy and a management model that will ensure sustainable economic development over the long term….

The whole idea is to give Chantilly new life, to put it back on the map; indeed, to put it on the map as one of France’s great cultural centres. It probably has the second best collection after the Louvre of various types of works of art…. The idea was to show Chantilly, as the Duc d’Aumale had asked, to the largest number of people possible. It was necessary to wake up this city, to coordinate the action of those responsible for the racecourse, the Chateau, the buildings and the park, the city, and the Ministry of Culture. The Museum of the Horse is an integral part of this scheme. The kings of France came to Chantilly to hunt, the Grandes Ecuries are the rival of the Royal Stables at Versailles, and the Hippodrome saw the birth of horse racing in France.

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‘Prospecting the Past, Inspiring the Future’, Preface to ‘The Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme: Strategies for Urban Regeneration’ edited by Philip Jodidio (Aiglemont)

My effort to defend the value of culture, through the Aga Khan Development Network, and specifically through its dedicated agency, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, focuses its activities in four main areas: the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme; the Aga Khan Award for Architecture; the Aga Khan Music Initiative; and Museum Projects.

These activities, which are themselves subdivided into a number of subsidiary programmes in many countries, obey four key principles. Firstly, they seek to increase the beneficiaries’ independence, to involve local communities, and to secure the support of public and private partners. Secondly, they are carried out in poor environments where there are considerable centrifugal, sometimes even conflicting, forces at play. Thirdly, they are designed to have maximum beneficial impact on the economies of the populations involved and their quality of life in the broadest sense of the term. Finally, they are planned in the long term, over a period of up to twenty-five years, enabling them to become self-sufficient both financially as well as in terms of human resources.

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Philip Jodidio interview (3rd) published in ‘A Racing and Breeding Tradition: The Horses of the Aga Khan’ (Aiglemont)

The idea of entering into an activity that was in no way central to the Ismaili Imamat, an activity in which no member of my family — neither my brother nor my sister nor I — had any understanding, in itself raised a major question mark. Would I have the time, and the capacity, to learn something about an activity with which I was totally unfamiliar? When the leader of a family endeavour disappears, the next generation does not necessarily carry on…. To be the new young owner who would come in and cause the operation to collapse was not exactly what I wanted!

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Golden Jubilee Closing Message (Aiglemont)

Because our institutions are growing very quickly, it is my hope and prayer that, 10 or 15 years from now, the Jamat’s capacity in most of the countries where it is living, will be very significant indeed, and that is what the Shia Ismaili Tariqah of Islam should achieve in the world.

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Preface to ‘The Aga Khan Museum’ by Philip Jodidio (Aiglemont)

It is important to note that what happens in North America, culturally, economically and politically, cannot fail to have worldwide repercussions — which is why the Museum will aim to contribute to a deeper understanding among cultures and to the strengthening of cultural pluralism: essential to peace, and to progress, in our world.

The developing political crises of recent years, and the considerable lack of knowledge of the Muslim world in many Western societies, are surely related. This ignorance spans all aspects of the peoples of Islam: their pluralism, the diversity of their interpretations of the Qur’anic faith, the chronological and geographical extent of their history and culture, as well as their ethnic, linguistic and social diversity….

This lack of knowledge manifests itself in a particularly serious way in Western democracies, where the public is often ill-informed about the Muslim world — an ignorance which then impacts the formulation of national and international policy vis-a-vis the Muslim world.

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Golden Jubilee Inaugural Ceremony (Aiglemont)

In a world where quality of life is increasingly measured in material terms there is risk that the essential value system of Islam will be eroded, or even threatened with disappearance. Political situations with a theological overlay are also causing disaffection or antagonism between communities of the same faith, and even more so amongst different faiths.

At the centre of this turbulence is Islam. We cannot let this continue. On the other hand, the sheer scale of the problem, added to its complexity, make it an issue which the Ummah, in its entirety, can better address, rather than individual schools of interpretation within it. It will be essential that while respecting their individual identities, various tariqahs within Islam should collaborate to articulate the common social and moral principles of our Islamic value system…. Islam is a faith of tolerance, generosity and spirituality…. Where we can build bridges with other tariqahs around a common Muslim cosmopolitan ethos, we should make this endeavour.

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Preface to the book ‘Karakorum, Hidden Treasures in the Northern Areas of Pakistan’ by Stefano Bianca (Aiglemont)

The integrated character of this innovative cultural development endeavour [the restored Shigar fort] has been underpinned and complemented by the work of other institutions of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), such as the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP), which has a long record of supporting rural communities in the Northern Areas. When the AKDN institutions first began working in northern Pakistan more than twenty years ago, it was one of the poorest areas on earth.

Since that time, nearly four thousand village-based organisations in such fields as women’s initiatives, water use and savings and credit have been established. The quality of life of 1.3 million people living in the rural environment — which in many ways was representative of the majority of the population of Asia and Africa — has been dramatically improved. Per capita income has increased by three hundred per cent, savings have soared, infant and maternal mortality rates have declined by more than eighty per cent, and there have been marked improvements in male and female education, overall life expectancy, primary health, housing and sanitation, and cultural awareness….

What has been achieved in the Northern Areas contains many lessons and can serve as a model for other mountain regions in Central Asia.

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Preface to the book ‘Syria, Medieval Citadels Between East and West’ by Stefano Bianca (Aiglemont)

Such deep and abiding affinities [between Christendom and the Muslim world] demonstrate that so-called conflicts between East and West — whether past or present — are political or ideological constructs that have no real basis in deeper cultural and religious fact. Beyond and apart from the controversies highlighted by contemporary observers (and acerbated by modern nationalistic concepts originally alien to Islam) there has always been a tradition of cultural exchange, tolerance and mutual understanding — even during conflictual situations such as the invasion by the Crusaders. It is this ‘subterranean’ tradition of multicultural symbiosis and of tolerant pluralism, as exemplified by the cultural history of Syria, which needs to be brought to light again, in order to overcome stereotypical prejudices that aggravate any real or imaginary conflicts that may still exist.

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‘On the Role of Culture in Development’, Aga Khan Trust for Culture Brochure (Aiglemont)

Twenty years later, the [Aga Khan Trust for Culture] has shown how culture can be a catalyst for development even in the poorest and most remote areas of the globe. From Afghanistan to Zanzibar, from India to Mali, the Trust’s support to historic communities demonstrates how conservation and revitalisation of the cultural heritage — in many cases the only asset at the disposal of the community — can provide a springboard for social development. We have also seen how such projects can have a positive impact well beyond conservation, promoting good governance, the growth of civil society, a rise in incomes and economic opportunities, greater respect for human rights and better stewardship of the environment. Indeed, we have seen architectural models recognised by the Aga Khan Award for Architecture have a profound impact when they are replicated….

For all these reasons, the Trust works to preserve the cultural heritage of the Muslim world — not as a bulwark against the contemporary world, but rather to ensure that the rich heritage of these cultures endures. At the same time, the Trust’s education programmes promote pluralism and tolerance as an antidote to what I call the “clash of ignorance.” It is my hope that one day pluralism will become accepted as the norm within communities and among the nations of the earth. I know of no better road to lasting peace than tolerance for the differences of faith, culture and origin.

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Letter to architect Fumihiko Maki setting out notions of Light as the design theme for the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto (Aiglemont) ·· incomplete

For the Aga Khan Museum, I thought that ‘light’ might be a concept around which you could design an outstanding museum….

I hope that the building and the spaces around it will be seen as the celebration of Light, and the mysteries of Light, that nature and the human soul illustrate to us at every moment in our lives. I have explained at the beginning of this letter why I think Light would be an appropriate design direction for the new museum and this concept is of course particularly validated in Islamic texts and sciences: apart from the innumerable references in the Qur’an to Light in all its forms, in nature and in the human soul, the light of the skies, their sources and their meaning have for centuries been an area of intellectual inquiry and more specifically in the field of astronomy. Thus the architecture of the building would seek to express these multiple notions of Light, both natural and man-made, through the most purposeful selection of internal and external construction materials, facets of elevations playing with each other through the reflectivity of natural or electric light, and to create light gain or light retention from external natural sources or man-made internal and external sources.

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On the purchase of four Agusta AB139 helicopters by the Aga Khan Development Network

Our experience in the northern areas of Pakistan shows that the logistical efficiencies gained from the use of helicopters have had a positive impact on the beneficiaries – the poor in remote, high mountain areas – in terms of the speed, efficiency and quality of development activities.

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Preface to ‘Cairo, Revitalising a Historic Metropolis’ by Stefano Bianca and Philip Jodidio (Aiglemont)

We stand today confronted with starkly different visions of the future of historic cities. At a time when our heritage, the anchor of our identity and source of inspiration, is being threatened with destruction, by war and environmental degradation, by the inexorable demographic and economic pressures of exploding urban growth, or by simple neglect, there can be no doubt that it is time to act. Will we allow the wealth that is the past to be swept away, or will we assume our responsibility to defend what remains of the irreplaceable fabric of history? My answer is clear. One of our most urgent priorities must be to value, and protect, what is greatest in our common heritage. Breathing new life into the legacy of the past demands tolerance, and understanding and creativity beyond the ordinary.

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His Highness the Aga Khan’s vision for the Aga Khan Academies: ‘What does it mean to be an educated person?’ (Aiglemont)

Education must also make the case for a pluralistic tradition in which other views, ethnicities, religions and perspectives are valued not only because that is just and good, but also because pluralism is the climate best suited for creativity, curiosity and inquiry to thrive. It must also stimulate students to consider a variety of perspectives on some of the fundamental questions posed by the human condition: “What is truth?” “What is reality?” and “What are my duties to my fellow man, to my country and to God?” At the same time, education must reinforce the foundations of identity in such a way as to reinvigorate and strengthen them so that they can withstand the shock of change.

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Letter to architect Fumihiko Maki setting out crystal as the design inspiration for the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, Ottawa (Aiglemont) ·· incomplete

The goal is to create a building which causes the viewer to wonder how different elements and different planes relate to each other, how they work together to tickle the eye (the Aga Khan said, proposing that Mr. Maki take inspiration from rock crystal, the mineral quartz in its clear and colourless form).

In a rock crystal the cuts and angles permit both transparency as well as translucency. It pleases and confuses the eye by its internal planes running at different angles, creating a sense of visual mystery. The … building in a sense should be somewhat mysterious and visually nearly esoteric. It should not be blatant but ethereal, not obvious but difficult to captivate.

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Preface – The Azhar Park Project in Cairo and the Conservation and Revitalisation of Darb al-Ahmar (Aiglemont)

The history of this multi-faceted project, reaching back over a decade, has been an exhilarating process of discovery and opportunity. While at the beginning the idea was to provide the metropolis with a much-needed green space at the heart of its historic agglomeration, the progressive uncovering of 1.3 kilometres of historic wall led to another major task — giving a new “face” to the historic city as seen from the Park. Eventually, the conservation project for the wall itself, being inseparable from the abutting historic city fabric, led AKTC to consider a third, equally important priority, i.e., launching a combined physical and social rehabilitation process in the neighbouring area of the Park, the Darb al-Ahmar district.

In keeping with the general strategy for HCSP projects, it was clear that the Park construction, as well as the Historic Wall conservation, could and should also act as stimuli for the rehabilitation of Darb al-Ahmar. Accordingly, the Trust has initiated a range of community-based urban upgrading projects that contribute to the improvement of living conditions in the vicinity of the Park by providing cultural, social, economic and institutional support.

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Dinner commemorating the Aga Khan Foundation’s Silver Jubilee (Aiglemont) ·· maybe missing

MAYBE MISSING: A speech may have made at this function, but we are unsure and regret that the speech, if any, is not available in the Archive. We would be very grateful if any of our readers who may have a copy would kindly share it with us. Please click here for information on making submissions to NanoWisdoms; we thank you for your assistance.

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Closing Remarks, First Seminar, The Aga Khan Award For Architecture (Aiglemont)

This seminar has been a source of happiness to me personally in that it has confirmed that we all believe a better, more appropriate, and more sympathetic environment can be created for those hundreds of millions of men and women throughout the world who believe in Islam. It has confirmed the desire to invigorate a Muslim will for an Islamic environment…. Some of you may even leave here with less certainty about future developments than when you came. Even so, a major achievement has occurred. A dialogue has been established among you all, a dialogue which transcends national boundaries and through which runs a common thread.

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Welcome Address, First Seminar, The Aga Khan Award For Architecture (Aiglemont)

The aim of the seminar is to review and consider the most important issues involved in the creation of a new built environment throughout the Islamic world. It is our hope that out of this seminar will come an identification of the real problems we face today and perhaps a number of possible solutions. We intend to hold five more seminars around the world before the first Award is made in 1980….

By inaugurating this seminar I would like to think that we are sharing a challenge, or an opportunity — to take stock of where we are today, how we arrived there, and where we are going. With these aims our efforts can be combined to provide an environment which future generations of Muslims will recognise as their own.

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Will of Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah, Aga Khan III

EVER since the time of my ancestor ALI, the first IMAM, that is to say over a period of thirteen hundred years, it has always been the tradition of our family that each Imam chooses his successor at his absolute and unfettered discretion from amongst any of his descendants whether they be sons or remoter male issue …

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