Union Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch on Friday re-opened the renovated gallery of Decorative Arts-I at the National Museum here which has 160 exhibits of varied sizes including objects carved predominantly in ivory, jade and ceramic, throwing light on the rich craftsmanship of the 18 and 19 century India.
The main highlights of the gallery are four pillars like ‘meditating Buddha’ inside the lattice case, huqqa inscribed with the name of Mughal Emperor Jahangir and Dashavatar shrine depicting 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu made of ivory, silver tray depicting Kaurava’s court scene and a five-feet elephant tusk carved with life scenes of Lord Buddha.
After taking a dekko at the vibrant set of ornately crafted historical objects of daily use, the Minister remarked: “Every time I come here to inaugurate a new section, I learn something new about our grand heritage.”
The Minister, who also unveiled the official pamphlet and portfolio of the new section, used the occasion to exhort the young generation to visit the museum galleries more often and gain a better grasp of one’s tradition and old-time aesthetics.
Explaining to the Minister, curator Anamika Pathak said 103 of the featured items were being put on public display for the first time. “In fact, we have repeated only five objects considering their historical importance and visual splendour. The renovated section is the result of nearly three years of planning and execution.”
According to National Museum Director-General Dr. Venu V., this is a brand new gallery.
“Decorative Arts Gallery was closed seven years ago as part of preparation for the prestigious exhibition on Nizam jewellery. To encourage both the young and the old, we are showcasing games which originated in the country. We have snakes and ladder in the earlier format.”
Noting that the present decorative arts gallery focuses on ivory, jade and ceramics, Dr. Venu said each medium is represented by a group of seven or eight showcases to portray the diverse nature of artefacts and the high quality of craftsmanship. “The ivory group highlights boxes, sandals, utilitarian artefacts and images of Hindu and Christian religious figures. The jade section showcases the utilitarian, while the glazed tiles, blue-white pottery and celadon items are in the ceramic group, which have been displayed for the first time.”
Since the National Gallery had introduced volunteers guide programme, Dr. Venu will see to it that volunteers are trained in explaining to visitors about items on display at this part of the gallery.