Telangana artefacts to travel to NY museum

One of the Buddhist relics that might be exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New Yor

One of the Buddhist relics that might be exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New Yor  

Phanigiri Buddhist relics may be part of the Met’s 150th anniversary exhibition

Buddhist artefacts and relics from Phanigiri in the Suryapet district are set to travel to New York next year for the 150th anniversary exhibition of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met).

“We are collaborating with the Telangana government to ensure that a small number of major pieces from the excavations at Phanigiri are a part of the exhibition at the Met to mark the museum’s 150th anniversary,” said John Guy, Curator at the Met, who was in the city recently to identify the objects and carry back a wish-list with him.

Some of the artefacts are dated from the 1st Century to 4th century AD.

The excavations at Phanigiri, which began in 1941 and continued till 1944 under the then director of Department of Archaeology Khwaja Mahmud Ahmed, during the Nizam’s reign, unearthed one of the important monastic sites of Buddhism.

Major pieces

The excavations yielded a Mahastupa, a congregation hall, viharas, chaityagruhas and panels with Jataka tales and inscriptions dated from the Satavahana and Ikshvaku dynasties.

Further excavations were carried out, including one in 2015, which unearthed a rare red earthenware pot with a silver container.

“The curator of the New York Met has given us a list of 13 objects, including six from Phanigiri, that they want to showcase for an exhibition on the Buddha. The Central government has to approve it, and if the objects are deemed safe for travel, we will lend them for the event,” said N. R. Visalatchy, Director, Department of Heritage, Telangana.

“The Phanigiri material will be at the very heart of the exhibition, and we feel honoured that Telangana is going to be part of it. This is due to the fact that there have been two major discoveries in recent times — one is Phanigiri and the other is Kandalahalli. We are also in talks with other institutions for contributions to the exhibition,” said Mr. Guy.

The Met exhibition comes five years after it hosted a sumptuous exhibition on the region titled ‘Sultans of Deccan India 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy’.

Sharing of artefacts

Interestingly, both the Telangana State Archaeological Museum near the Telangana Assembly, and the Heritage Museum, Gunfoundry, don’t have a single relic from Phanigiri on display.

“We will put them on display once the artefacts that are part of Andhra Pradesh’s share are moved out.

“The artefacts are to be shared in a 60:40 ratio of those acquired after 1956,” said an official at the museum.

According to historians and archaeologists, Phanigiri was part of an ancient pilgrimage and caravan route when Satavahanas, and later Ikshvakus, ruled the region.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 2:30:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/telangana-artefacts-to-travel-to-ny-museum/article26485833.ece

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