The Mikras (Shears) or entrance into the Khyber Pass from the Peshawer hill
Artist: Atkinson, James (17780-1852)
Medium: Watercolour with pen and ink
This is a pen-and-ink and water-colour drawing of the entrance into the Khyber Pass by James Atkinson (1780-1852) dated 1840. Inscribed on the front is: 'The Mikras (Shears) or entrance into the Khyber Pass from the Peshawer hill'; and on the side: 'First Ascent of the Khyber Pass'. The drawing is folio 7 from an album of seventeen drawings of views in Afghanistan from the Kyber Pass to Kabul by Atkinson. During the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839-42) Atkinson served as Superintending Surgeon to the army of the Indus, a combined force of British and Indian troops. A talented amateur artist, he took the opportunity to complete many sketches en route which portrayed mountain passes, rocky gorges and arid plains characteristic of the country.
The legendary Khyber Pass is the most important of the passes that lead from Afghanistan into India. The narrow gorge cuts through the high shale and limestone cliffs of the Hindu Kush Mountains. Of great strategic importance, and with many historical associations, the Khyber Pass has been used by every invader from Alexander the Great onwards to reach the plains of India. Many lost their lives in this forbidding environment during the Anglo-Afghan Wars and the Pass was the scene of numerous skirmishes between Anglo-Indian soldiers and Afghan soldiers and tribesmen.