01/16/11 — Karzai, Eikenberry donate items to county museum

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Karzai, Eikenberry donate items to county museum

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on January 16, 2011 1:50 AM

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Museum employee Chris Lawson holds a rug donated to the Wayne County History Museum by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and delivered by Ambassador Karl Eikenberry.

A signed letter of friendship from Afghan President Hamid Karzai accompanied a treasure trove of items from Afghanistan donated Saturday to the Wayne County Museum.

Traditional Afghan clothing, dolls and currency were among the gifts U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry and his wife, Ching Eikenberry, gave to the museum.

Candlesticks made of lapis, the national stone of Afghanistan, and even an inlaid lapis box and Afghan rug donated by Karzai and his wife, Zeenat Karzai, will permanently join the collection.

"It's going to stay here in Wayne County," assistant museum director Chris Lawson said.

And so will the brief letter, dated January 2011, which reads, "To the citizens of Wayne County, with friendship and gratitude for your support of the people of Afghanistan."

The museum contacted the American embassy in Afghanistan -- and the Pakistan embassy in Washington, D.C. -- about donating a few items to display along with the Wayne County Reads exhibit focusing on Greg Mortenson's book, "Three Cups of Tea."

"They e-mailed back and said, 'We'd love to,'" Lawson said.

But Lawson wasn't expecting the bags and boxes of goods that Goldsboro native Eikenberry dropped off Saturday afternoon.

"This is wonderful, it's so great to have all these things from Afghanistan," he said. "It's nice to find people who grew up here and come back. These are real treasures."

Each of the items came with information card identifying the gift and its importance in Afghan culture. The embassy also donated two DVDs about Afghanistan that will enter the collection.

But it may be a while before the items are on display to the public, Lawson said. The museum is currently planning how and where to put them on display under protective glass at the historic building in downtown Goldsboro.

Biographical displays about Eikenberry and Mortenson and information about Afghanistan and Pakistan will remain on display at the Wayne County Museum during the Wayne County Reads program.

The museum is located at 116 N. William St. For more information, call 734-5023.