Virtual Tour

       Indian Museum, Kolkata : Virtual Exhibitions
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Bhita is an ancient city on the bank of the Yamuna about 22 KM away from Allahabad unravels the story of a culture more than 2800 years old. Alexander Cunningham visited the site in the year 1872. He had come across a cut section through the rampart on the south-eastern side of central mound having the defences of the old town Bhita. John Marshall excavated the site in 1909-10. Out of five layers unearthed, the earliest period of this mound, represented by a deposit of black slipped ware, is datable to 8th to 7th BCE, followed by Northern Black Polished Ware dated to the beginning of 7th century BCE continued up to 2nd Century BCE. Likewise, the latest occupation is identified as contemporary to the Gupta period. A good number of antiquities have been recovered from Bhita. Among these antiquities a wide variety of Terracotta occupies a prime position. They include human and animal figurines, beads, rattle, wheel, toy cart, hopscotch stopper, weight etc.

Indian Museum, Kolkata has a sizeable collection of Bhita terracotta in their possession. The collection ranges from human figurines, faces to household objects, toys etc. It is an endeavour to project some of these specimens.




   The Art of the Nagas

The Nagas, inhabit a narrow strip of the mountainous region between the Brahmaputra valley of Assam and the neighbouring Burma, the hilly areas of northern and eastern Manipur and a part of the Kachar Hills of Assam. Linguistically the Nagas belong to the Tibeto-Burman language group. The Nagas are the most numerous tribal group of north eastern India. It is composed of fourteen major tribes: Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Khiemnungan, Konyak, Lotha, Phom, Rengama, Sangtam, Sema, Yimchunger, Zeliangrong, Kuki and several subtribes. Negaland is basically governed by an agricultural economy; about 90 per cent of the population depend on the produce of their fields for their livelihood. Heavy rainfall facilitates intensive agricultural activities. Rice, maize, millet, Job’s tears (Coix lacrima-jobi) and potatoes are the main crops.




   Artifacts from the Harappan Civilisation

The Harappan Civilisation was a Bronze Age civilisation (3300–1300 BCE) in northwest Indian subcontinent spreading over the present day Pakistan, northwest India and some regions of northeast Afghanistan. The site Harappa was named after a modern village located near the former course of the Ravi River. Along with two other early civilisations, one in ancient Egypt and the other in Mesopotamia, it was the most widespread among them, covering an area of 1.25 million square kilometre. It flourished in the basins of the Indus River, one of the major rivers of Asia, and the now dried up Sarasvati River, which once coursed through northwest India and eastern Pakistan together with its tributaries. Due to the spread of the civilisation along both the river valleys, it is also designated as the Indus-Sarasvati Civilisation.

Harappa, the first of its sites excavated in the 1920s, was located in the then Punjab province of British India, and is now in Pakistan. The discovery of Harappa, was followed by the unearthing of Mohenjo-Daro. A good number of various sculptures, seals, pottery, jewellery, figurines in terracotta, bronze, and steatite found from these excavation sites were poured into the repertoire of Indian Museum. A few of them has been put up in this virtual show.




   Mathura Sculptures

Mathura was the eastern headquater of the vast Kushana Empire and it had close administrative and culture links with the region of Gandhara in west. Both witnessed a golden time under the Kushanas. The Mathura and Gandhara schools of art which emerged and flourished almost simultaneously, freely intermixed and exchanged their artistic trends.The Mathura style reached its Zenith in the Gupta period, 4th-6th century A.D. when the figure became slim and slender and the expression on the face was marked with a super natural bliss and serenity. The Gupta sculptures are known for a unique combination of beauty and spirit. Inscriptions recorded on several sculptures have considerably enhanced their cultural significance.




   Mask in the collection of
Indian Museum

Mask is an art of transformation, concealing the identity of the performer and invests the actor with an alternative identity. It is used to take on the persona of the other – a person, a deity, an animal or a cosmic character. The performer in the mask dance is looked upon as an empowered person, whose socially ascribed identity is subsumed to the identity of the character that he depicts with the help of the mask.

Masks and their use in performances and religious ritual are an ancient tradition of a wide variety of communities in different parts of the world.




   Ancient Indian Terracottas

Ever since the emergence of human, there have been constant effort and attempts to improve the ease and convenience for existence. The result was the discovery of terracotta pottery, used for storage purposes and terracotta bricks utilized for construction of shelters to live comfortably. Subsequently with the surplus production of food grains human devoted time to the creation of art activities through the plastic medium of terracotta. Consequently, terracotta became the first and major medium of creative expression of human mind. The word terracotta means "baked clay" or "fired earth". Since the inception of societies in ancient India, terracotta bears testimony of man's civilization.

Ancient terracotta has been a pulsating life force for the people of India. The excavations of Harappa and Mohenjodaro civilizations authenticated the fact. The Indians mastered this art to cater to their every necessity and has gained a lot of prominence. They handled it with great skill to mould the clay with their hands To form various things, which covers a wide range of daily used household utensils, pottery, toys, human figures, jewelries, ornamental designs on temples, panels and other valued objects of utility to deities of worship and votive figures.

The predominance of the ancient Indian terracotta art is generally witnessed in the Indian subcontinent. It surpasses the chronicles of time and occupies a central position in Indian life as a significant aesthetic indicator of culture.




Ganesa Icons From Vasant Chowdhury

Ganesa, literally the lord of ganas is the most universally adored of all Brahmanical deities. The images of Ganesa are found practically in every part of India. The popularity of the god is extended to Nepal, Java, Cambodia, Indonesia and even his worship not unknown in Tibet, Myanmar, China and Japan. The god has been conceived as vighneswara, the lord of obstacles, vighantaka, the remover of calamities, siddhidata, the bestower of success and the divine scribe which gained him the reputation as patron of letters.

The Exhibition consists of twenty images out of one hundred objects of art and crafts representing the icons of Ganesa gifted to the Indian Museum on 5 June, 2000 AD by late Vasant Chowdhury, the celebrated actor and art connoisseur.





An Exposition On Mother Goddess In Indian Art

The worship of the female principle representing motherhood, fertility, creation as well as destruction is an age-old system in the religious life of the people of India. She is the embodiment of the bounty of the Earth as well. The proto-historic Harappan Civilization yielded the earliest positive evidence of the existence of the worship of the female principle in the form of numerous clay female figurines and representation of the same on several seals. The early Vedic literature, although speaks of the dominance of male gods but does not altogether discard existence of their female counterparts. Goddesses like Usha , Ila, Sarasvati, Aditi, Prithvi, Raka, among others though were conceived as the wives, daughters or the beloved of the male gods, but collectively they personify such abstract attributes as abundance and nourishment. It is well known that the Durgastrotra of the Mahabharata and the Aryastava outline the various constituent underlying the principal cult picture of the developed nature of the Mother cult later on came to be known as Saktism. References to the tribes like the Savaras, Barbaras and Pulindas of worshipping the female principle is found in the Aryastava. Here she is described as Aparna (not covered with even a leaf garment), Naga Savari (naked Savara woman) and Parna Savari (Leaf clad Savara woman) and as the great saviouress from terrors like captivity, wilderness, drowning , harassment from the robbers as also great forests. All these references prove that prior to the emergence of the developed Sakti cult where predominance of the female deity is found , India had witnesses prevalent of worship of the natural phenomenon in female form.




  Musical Instruments
Donated by Raja Sir Sourindro Mohun Tagore

Raja Sir Sourindro Mohun Tagore of the Pathuriaghata Raj family, an eminent scholar of musicology, had authored a number of books on music namely, Universal History of Music, Yantrakosha, Six Principal Ragas etc. In 1875 when His Royal Highness Prince of Wales ,Edward VII ,visited Calcutta, a Bengali band was formed using the collection of musical instruments of Raja Sir Sourindro Mohun Tagore and those instruments were donated in 1876 to the Indian Museum. This collection includes a wide variety of string instruments namely Mahakachhapi Vina, Mayuri Vina etc and percussion instruments like Huruk, Joraghayi drum etc, besides a variety of trumpets viz. Turi, Ranasinga etc and blowing instruments. On the occasion of the commemoration of the centenary of the Indian Museum in 1914, Raja Sir Sourindro Mohun Tagore further donated a series of magnificent Japanese and Indian musical instruments along with a splendid Burmese violin. The Japanese collection was a gift to Raja by His Imperial Majesty Mikado of Japan and the Burmese violin was presented by His Majesty the king Theebaw of Burma.




  Paintings of Jamini Roy
Album Of Art treasures

Jamini Ray, a versatile genius and the legendary artist of Bengal, played a role of profound significance by his aesthetic adventure and left a permanent and distinguished place in Indian painting.Jamini Ray was born on April 11, 1887 in the village of Beliatore in Bankura district of West Bengal and passed his childhood amidst the living rural art of Bengal. The surroundings as well as the family tradition have greatly influenced his artistic career. Jamini Ray was greatly impressed by the work of the village craftsmen like the potter, the carpenter, the blacksmith, the clay-modeller and above all the patua and also the alpana or simple artistic rice-paste drawing of rural women . It was from these village craftsmen that he learnt the importance of the fundamental line and the expressive contours which formed the keynote of his painting. The paintings of Jamini Ray are noteworthy for their linear rhythm and attractive colour composition.