Encountering cultural artefacts
As part of the Media, Gender & Culture course, on Friday, 17th January 2020, the FYBAMMC students of St Pauls Institute of Communication Education for Women, visited the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) located near Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Mumbai
We first entered the main museum building, here we studied a few items from the prehistoric eras. We admired their amazing sculpting skills especially the lemon sized faces of animals – like lion, tiger, owl, and alligator – carved on stones. We also saw little chisels used for daily cutting and chopping, and jewelry items made from shells, stones and ivory that were captivating to behold.
Moving on to the first floor we visited the Mughal section. The Mughal section was rich in portraits, handiworks, textiles, scriptures, poetries. It had a huge replica (setup) of King Akbar and his wife enjoying their leisure time. A few miniature models of some great artefacts were displayed there. I personally spent a few minutes viewing each article and pondering how these were made as every element was mesmerizing.
We then progressed to a section that illustrates India under the British Raj. The display of large portraits; including people, English cities, and their luxurious life were very well presented in the museum. The major difference we noticed, was the use of vibrant colours in the ethnic Indian cultural portraits as compared to the plain shades of black and brown used expansively in the Western paintings.
When we moved on to the next unit we saw an 18th century printing machine that was used to print materials. It was interesting to note the use of this machine- where damp paper is first put in in, followed by a flat block of engraved design filled with colours or ink. The design block is then pressed onto the damp paper with the help of a high pressure rolling machine to obtain the image.
The vibrant Harappa Civilization exhibit was the next section. The 3D miniature model map displayed facilitated deeper understanding of this age. Their bowls (water reservoir) and excellent infrastructure were accurately presented, including the visual presentation of weapons, tools, food grains of rice, dal, and horse dung as fuel used by the people of this civilization.
All the galleries were rich in their presentation and exhibition. The museum had a large collection that encompassed idols, weapons, even combs and jewelry, daily use items from pots and pieces to sacred scriptures. The tour helped us realize that Indian heritage is strongly rooted in values and it is supported by rich traditions.
Contributor: Mamta Gupta (FYBAMMC)