The historical world and where to find them.
History is understood as more than mere textbook stories. They may be of the past but indeed hold context that is relevant in the current setting and time of existence.
We have deciphered the relevance of all objects through the means of the association technique.
Museums are also a form of archiving and they are not the past they are what shape our future. These archives bring our subaltern perspectives, emerge and go through a series of changes and evolution.
Museums are where we apprehend history and it is thus noteworthy to make sure that we hold knowledgeable guides in heritage sites.
The Bangalore Museum was all I needed to hear to bring in some excitement during my trial after knowledge. The building looked inviting with its vermilion paint, and there stood massive pillars and several entry points and blocks.
A serene atmosphere with its massive lush green trees that served as a canopy with pecks of sunlight that escaped them and glistened along with the building’s paint.
Metal objects and utensils were all neatly arranged inside a wooden box that was on display as we entered the path of the ‘unknown’. These were used for a myriad of options that include décor, cooking, prayer offering, gifting and food storage.
The world of metals:
Jadegenahalli which in Tamil is translated as the location of Jars situated in Karnataka had red ware antiquities dated to the 7.5 Century, pottery from Megalithic burials along with black ware sarcophagus, tiles that belonged to Savandurga, Chandravalli and specimens of arrowhead that belonged to the 5th Century were intriguing to look at.
There were several remains of weapons, terracotta figures, bricks, shells, and copper plates issued by Gubbi Mummadi Honappa Gauraya in 1760 A.D. These depict an iron sheet along with votive tablets that were written by him as instructions for the people.
These Museums have stood against time and museologists and archaeologists have continued to preserve and curate them. These materials have within them a frayed story that we don’t know in detail, and this takes us to the initial understanding of how museums are indeed a conscious construction of memory.
This juxtaposition is mostly ignored by those who don’t see past their physical form. The other intriguing part of the Museum is the wide range of weapons that was witnessed and their breathtaking arrangement.
The weapons were excavated from the battleground in Coorg mostly and they were named the following — Chakrayudha, Horn o Antelope, Parashuram Khagda, Bow, guns and gunpowder and the small engraved designs on these metals still stand shining through ages.
There was a section dedicated to sculptures through the ages discovered in areas like Hampi, Hoysala and other areas of Karnataka.
The thrilling tale of Attirampakkam:
Attirampakkam, an exciting site for any archaeologist which is at a distance of 60 kilometres from the outskirts of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, became the pioneer of possessing stone tools that almost date back to 200,000 years.
They also hold a fair share of ownership when it comes to tracing human settlements. The museum had in stock some of the tools that were found in Attirampakkam kept for public display along with an explanation of what is the location and why it is of significance in understanding material culture.
In the allocation of these material remnants, some pieces were broken or dusty. There were gripping objects and photographs kept in every corner without much protection and it was understood to be a means of aesthetics and grandeur to the material which included sculpture, canon, and Procession of War armaments from Virajpet and Somwarpet in Coorg (16th-17th Century A.C.E).
The physical space conundrum:
Material objects are an integral and inseparable aspect of our day-to-day life and through these sets of materials or their physical presence, they are tangible and visible to our eyes classifying them as materials.
If this ability to sense them does not exist then it would not be possible to build a narrative of their existence. In the past, some early historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, and museum directors had a way of presenting material culture that showed their ethnocentrism, the tendency for one culture to view itself as superior to another and to judge the other culture by one’s values.
In facilitating contact with actual objects as both primary evidence and irreplaceable vehicles of first-hand experience, and in their ability to mediate a range of different engagements with collections and the rich interpretations they may arouse, museums are agents of both human record and ‘presence’ in the portrayal of history.
In unique and irreplaceable ways through the collections and resources they house, museums provide vital evidence of lived experiences and encounters in the world.
Museums are gradually recognising the need to go beyond the collection, conservation and education of tangible heritage. Museums need to adopt a new model to engage themselves with communities for a constant process of transformation through the collection of intangible heritage.
There is an urgent need for museums and community groups to come together to promote and preserve intangible cultural heritage. It is better to keep your identity alive rather than adopt that of others.
The physical spaces we live in communicate meaning about our identity, values, and for whom and what the spaces are intended. They also affect our behaviour and interactions with others.
If space and material objects were better addressed in qualitative research, it could not only provide deeper insights into the culture but could also inspire people to become more reflective and intentional about the spaces they create, thereby influencing a more caring and inclusive culture.
Mr. Venkatappa’s love for art and architecture:
The Museum also had an Art Gallery dedicated to Mr. Venkatappa who fancied the arts and all his used objects were displayed there inside a glass case.
This included his everyday materials, paintings, and a bust of his statue was at the entrance for people to get an idea of how he looked. He was particularly known for preparing his pigments and brushes.
His ivory miniature paintings “Abanindranath” (of his mentor), two portraits of Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV (Rajarishi) done in 1918 and two portraits of Maharaja of Cooch Behar (1926) were masterpieces in their own right. His sculptures were lifelike.
His plaster sculpture “Mani” of a young boy who served him in a hotel in Mysore was telling in its realism. Other notable plaster sculptures include “Veena Seshanna.”
His collections are spread out across many places such as “Sri Kasturibhai Lalbhai Collection” of Ahmedabad, “Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery,” Mysore, K. Rama Raju of Bangalore, “Venkatappa Art Gallery,” Bangalore and Collections of “Late Treasurywalla,” “Raja of Digpatia” and “The Tagore Family.”
His wonderful artistic temperament, his creative brilliance and his ability to resurrect the uniquely Indian Traditional Technique in his work make them ever-lasting in their own right.
Material culture provides us insight into the nonmaterial culture, which includes the ideas, beliefs, habits and values of a people, and it’s one such understanding that we draw from museums and their ways of displaying objects alongside their purpose and familiarity among the audience who come in for viewing.
Hope you enjoyed reading, do share your feedback and views on the same, you never know this could lead you to fresh ideas.
Until Next Time Folks!!
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Keene, Suzanne. Fragments of the world: uses of museum collections. Routledge, 2006.
Totoricagüena, Gloria Pilar. Identity, culture, and politics in the Basque diaspora. University of Nevada Press, 2015.
Stocking, George W., ed. Objects and others: essays on museums and material culture. Vol. 3. Univ of Wisconsin Press, 1988.
Swallow, Deborah. Colonialism and the Object: Empire, Material Culture, and the Museum. Vol. 2. Psychology Press, 1998.