Heritage Education in India

Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage

Youngintach Forum

Heritage Alerts
December 2017


Revisiting World of Philately

That outmoded thumb size piece of paper at the top right of the envelope has been intriguing people since the time of its birth in 1840. In India, however, stamp was born in 1947. The fascination over stamps has given rise to that interesting hobby which came to be known as the ‘King of hobbies and the hobby of kings’-Philately. The term Philately has been derived from the combination of the Greek words ‘philos’ meaning ‘love of’ and ‘ateles’ meaning ‘exemption from tax’. In simple words it’s the collection and study of stamps. There is no doubt, in fact, these colourful bits of paper are collected because of their worth. Apart for it, what else attract the collectors are the designs, stories that are engraved and the events or people they commemorate.

Each stamp reflects a region’s trade, history, flora-fauna, culture and the heritage. In conversation with Northeast Today, Nandita Chowdhury, Deputy Post Master- I, GPO (Guwahati), who is also the supervisor of the Guwahati GPO Philately Bureau informed that the Philately Bureau of the Guwahati GPO is the main branch in Assam, catering the requirements of many philatelist and stamp enthusiasts. “Philatelic stamps are different from regular stamps as they are printed only once unlike the regular ones and hence their value increases in the long run. After the stamps are supplied to the main bureau, they are transported to every head office. After a period of six months from the time of their release, if any stamps remain unsold, we sell them at the counters,” she said.

She further informed that enthusiasts and collectors can open a Philatelic Deposit Account (PD) which can be useful for children and students. “I have opened one for my elder daughter, so whenever she receives a stamp she becomes very excited. It’s a good way of teaching young children as the stamps are released under different themes,” she concluded. “Legacy of letters has died with the advent of internet and social media. The younger generation is not aware of that thumb size paper. To spread awareness India introduced My Stamp in 2011. Through this scheme, one can personalisethe postal stamp according to their choice and preferences.

Be it your own photo or the pictures/logos of your institution, organization or heritage buildings- a personalized thumbnail photograph of the image can be achieved through My Stamp. We are also visiting schools to spread more awareness,” informed Surnika Gogoi, PA at Philatelic Bureau. From a Philatelist’s Pen- Speaking to Northeast Today about philately as a hobby, treasurer of Guwahati Philatelic Society Vishal Sanganeria said, “If taken seriously, philately can be absorbing, informative as well as expensive. Roots of this ‘King of Hobbies’, date back to the times when letters were in reign. Children and even adults used to take out the stamps from the envelopes and keep it in their stock books.

Most of them started off like this. However, keeping the stamps in a stock book is not philately. There lies a lot of research and study on the stamps which can even take one to state, national and International level championships. On a personal level, it can be a break of relief in your mundane routine.” b“In India, Northeast related stamps are comparatively less in number. The latest among them are the four stamps on Caves of Meghalaya that have been released in August 15, 2017,” he further added. “For new designs, time and again painting and art contests are held all over India where the winners’ designs are picked and released as a stamp. Moreover, in September 2017, India and Belarus issued a joint stamp issue to commemorate 25 Years of diplomatic relations between both the countries. Similar events and programmes have been keeping us motivated as philatelists and paving the path for many others to follow,” added Sanganeria.

- https://www.northeasttoday.in/revisiting-world-of-philately/, Dec 1, 2017

INTACH Museum to continue running on HDMC premises

Here is good news for the admirers of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Museum situated on the premises of the Hubballi-Dharwad Municipal Corporation (HDMC). The civic body has renewed the agreement with INTACH for the next three years. Mayor D K Chavan told TOI that recognizing the museum's contribution to protect the culture and heritage of the region, the HDMC has decided to allow the museum to run in its building for the next three years. "We are not charging INTACH to run the museum on the HDMC premises," he said. Convener of INTACH Dharwad, N P Bhat, expressed his happiness for renewing the agreement.

"The museum has many valuable articles. This includes stamps, coins, manuscripts, original certificates of many writers, paintings of Indian painters and many ancient articles," he said. Bhat is planning to request the authorities for a lease, allowing the museum to run for many years. The museum is a treasure of photographs and information on the achievements of prominent personalities in the field of literature, music and social service. It also has awards and citations of those personalities. Original scripts of many writers are also kept for the public view. Art works of various artists can also be seen. The museum also has toys that well-known writer Shantinath Desai had played in his childhood.

The articles kept in the museum are all donated. The museum is being run successfully due to the financial assistance from the state government, HDMC, Infosys Foundation's Sudha Murty and other donors. The museum is open from 10.30am to 5.30am all day except Sunday. INTACH was set up in 1984 with a mandate to protect and conserve the country's vast natural, built and cultural heritage. Its Dharwad chapter was started on the HDMC premises in 2012. It shifted to a heritage building of the HDMC in October 2014.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hubballi/intach-museum-to-continue-running-on-hdmc-premises/articleshow/61870325.cms, Dec 1, 2017

Cine Museum, a first of its kind in south India, opens to public

Udhagamandalam: In the era of digital cinema, use of reels and projectors has faded into oblivion. A museum has been opened for the public in the town displaying these priceless old equipment. Christened as 'Assems Cine Museum', the museum was dedicated to the public on Wednesday by the district collector J Innocent Diyva. The museum is housed in Assembly Rooms, a heritage building and an iconic landmark cine hall in the town. The museum showcases two 60-year-old Bauer projectors made in Germany, film reels, spool, film rewinding table among other accessories of a movie theatre. Inaugurating the museum, the collector said, "The theatre and the museum are pride of Ooty. It is a privilege maintaining the heritage founded by Lady Willingdon and Lord Willingdon."

She said, "Cine Museum is a gift to the future generation for they would get to know the history of old cinema." Geetha Srinivasan, a trustee of the Assembly Rooms, said, "As the convener of INTACH-Nilgiris chapter, I am sentimentally attached to the heritage building of the cinema hall." She added, "When the theatre was digitalized in 2015, we thought the priceless old equipment to be preserved for posterity. The idea of opening a cine museum cropped up." Geetha said the 'Cine Museum' is one of its kind in the country as it has been situated in a heritage building. Stating that the museum has been planted in a best possible place of the theatre, D Radhakrishnan, honorary secretary of Assembly Rooms, said, "The museum is nothing but a gathered history of technology of old cinema.

And the old theatre accessories are safe." According to him, the museum will be extended further inside the hall. And portraits of all icons of Hollywood, Bollywood, Kollywood among other state film icons will be displayed as an added attraction. The museum developed at the cost of Rs 6 lakh displays old film slides, old gramophone records, carbon rods, and old photographs, including those of Lord and Lady Willingdon. Also, one of halls in the theatre has been named after Lady Willingdon.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/coimbatore/cine-museum-a-first-of-its-kind-in-south-india-opens-to-public/articleshow/61954858.cms, Dec 6, 2017

Museum dept seeks relief from govt to restore Roerich paintings

The department of museum has sought a 4G exemption under Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement Act to expedite restoration of nearly 250 Svetoslav Roerich paintings languishing in a dank room for several years. The Department of Archeology, Museums and Heritage plans to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Intach Chitrakala Parishath Art Conservation Centre (ICKPAC) to also restore and conserve the paintings at Venkatappa Art Gallery (VAG).

The department is currently awaiting clearance from the Finance Department for the revised estimate for restoration. According to the earlier proposal, ICKPAC, a not-for-profit organisation, was to take up the project for Rs 65 lakh. Preparing MoU. With the department even preparing an MoU to this effect, the project cost has been revised to Rs 1 crore. "We are forced to submit a revised estimate after the GST (implementation)," Commissioner for Archeology, Museums and Heritage T Venkatesh said. "When 18% GST is applied, the cost goes up by more than Rs 1 crore. We have also asked for 4G exemption to expedite the project and are currently waiting for the Finance Department's approval," Venkatesh added.

The paintings have been in the custody of Central Crime Branch (CCB), following a legal battle over Roerich and his wife Devika Rani's property at Tataguni Estate on Kanakapura Road. Though the paintings were restored six years ago by the Regional Conservation Laboratory (RCL), Mysuru, they began to deteriorate again having been kept in a closed dank room. The department has asked ICKPAC to also restore as many as 32 paintings displayed at VAG and also 80 paintings displayed at the Government Museum, flanking the gallery.

- http://www.deccanherald.com/content/646750/museum-dept-seeks-relief-govt.html, Dec 6, 2017

Singapore Exhibits 140 Rare Artefacts Of Indian Traditional Craft

An exhibition of around 140 Indian rare traditional artefacts, some dating back to 5,000 years, opened in here today with a minister urging Singaporeans to visit it and witness the evolution of artistic and crafting traditions across generations. The highlight of the exhibition is a collection of rare artefacts from the Indus Valley Civilisation loaned by the National Museum of India. Each piece tells a story and will fascinate with its exquisite designs, including elaborate ancient Indus and Brahmi scripts and familiar motifs in Indian crafts such as the lotus and the mango, said the Indian Heritage Centre (IHC) which is hosting the exhibition till June 30. The IHC has engaged 15 expert craftspeople from India to offer visitors an opportunity to witness ancient crafts being practiced up close, through fortnightly demonstrations.

Some of the ancient craft traditions include bidri - a craft that has its beginnings in the 14th and 15th centuries - where artists etch intricate designs and calligraphy on metal surfaces before filling them in with fine silver wires. They will also demonstrate ancient skill of leather puppet making, which are then used in shadow puppetry performances of great Indian epics such as the Ramanyana. The annual exhibition is themed: Symbols and Scripts: The Language of Craft. The IHC CultureFest 2017, being held along the exhibition, explores the theme of Rasa, or aesthetics, in Indian tradition. "Traditional craftsmanship embodies practices that have been passed down from our ancestors.

This special exhibition at the Indian Heritage Centre showcases rare artefacts that represent the evolution of artistic and crafting traditions across generations," Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, said yesterday during the launch of the exhibition. "I encourage Singaporeans to visit this exhibition and learn more about this important part of our intangible cultural heritage," said Fu. "Through the artefacts featured in the exhibition, we celebrate the rich and diverse heritage of the Indian community in Singapore, as well as that of the larger global Indian diaspora," elaborated Trudy Loh, Director of Heritage Institutions at the National Heritage Board, parent group of IHC.

- https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/singapore-exhibits-140-rare-artefacts-of-indian-traditional-craft-1784842, Dec 6, 2017

UNESCO recognises Kumbh Mela as India's cultural heritage

The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage under UNESCO has inscribed ´KumbhMela´ on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during its 12th session being held at Jeju, South Korea from 4-9 December. This inscription is the third in two years following the inscriptions of ´Yoga´ and ´Nouroz´ in December. The inscription of ´KumbhMela´ was recommended by the expert body which examines in detail the nominations submitted by Member States, according to a MEA note. The Committee observed that ´KumbhMela´ is the largest peaceful congregation of pilgrims on earth. The festival, held in Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik, represents a syncretic set of rituals related to worship and ritual cleansing in holy rivers in India.

"The element is compatible with existing international human rights instruments since people from all walks of life, without any discrimination participate in the festival with equal fervor. As a religious festival, the tolerance and inclusiveness that KumbhMela demonstrates are especially valuable for the contemporary world," the MEA note commented. The Committee also took note of the fact that knowledge and skills related to ´KumbhMela´ are transmitted through the Guru-Shishyaparampara (teacher-student relationship) by way of saints and sadhus teaching their disciples about traditional rituals and chants. This would ensure the continuity and viability of this festival in perpetuity.

In 2003, the UNESCO General Conference adopted the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage as an international treaty acknowledging that cultural heritage is more than tangible places, monuments and objects; it also encompasses traditions and living expressions. Intangible cultural heritage means the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated with them that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as a part of their cultural heritage.

"This intangible cultural heritage is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity. It is not valued because it is unique but rather because it is relevant for the community practicing it. Furthermore, its importance is not in the cultural manifestation itself, but in the wealth of knowledge, know-how and skills that are transmitted from one generation to the next," read the MEA note after UNESCO decision.

- https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/unesco-recognises-kumbh-mela-as-indias-cultural-heritage/articleshow/61964094.cms, Dec 6, 2017

A museum of folk traditions

Spread over 10 acres on a rocky outcrop in northwestern India’s Jodhpur town, Arna Jhana celebrates the open spaces of the desert, including its flora and fauna. Two childhood friends of Jodhpur in northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan began an effort in 1960 to conserve the indigenous traditions of the desert. Komal Kothari and Vijaydan Detha formed Rupayan Sansthan, an institute to document the state’s folklore, arts and music, and began developing a conceptual basis to explain its traditions. Detha turned an author and adapted folk stories into his critically acclaimed literary works, and Kothari focused on documenting the numerous living traditions of the desert state. Through his efforts, Kothari offered an alternative model of development and helped internationalise many of the Rajasthani folk practices. When Detha, who is widely regarded as a folklore socialist for his anti-feudal writings, was writing short stories, Kothari was trying to explain the tense balance between the ecology and culture, where the material and the performative aspect could only survive in harmonious relation to its environment. But by the 1990s, Rupayan Sansthan was becoming defunct.

In 30 years, Detha had written more than 800 short stories, some of which have been adapted into popular Hindi films, and Kothari had traversed 29,000 villages to document people’s traditional knowledge. Kothari had long envisaged a space to exhibit and bring about public engagement with the folk culture and oral traditions he had spent his life documenting. In 1999, his son, Kuldeep Kothari, joined Rupayan Sansthan and began the revival process.

Top of his priority was to fulfill his father’s dream of setting up a museum of folk traditions. And that’s how Arna Jharna desert museum at Moklawas village, 15 kilometres from Jodhpur city on the Jaisalmer road, came about. Arna Jharna (Hindi words for forest and spring) encompasses a rocky outcrop and a ravine, which includes an old stone quarry turned watershed, and commands breathtaking views of the rocky plains of the scrubland, showcasing the harsh beauty of the Marwar region of Rajasthan. Spread over 10 acres, the museum is a haven for desert flora and fauna apart from being the repository of living traditions documented through hours of ethnographical interviews on the folk practices of the state. “It is marked by a devotion to the natural and organic resources of Rajasthan, the local communities and their local forms of knowledge, art and culture,” says Kuldeep Kothari.

Arna Jharna has 30 different varieties of trees and shrubs and is laid with a variegated carpet of several types of grass. The air is filled with sounds of birds and deer and peacock are regular visitors to an old stone quarry turned into a watershed. Komal Da, as the elder Kothari was popularly referred to, showed how musical traditions were endemic to three distinct agrarian zones as they were dependent on the available flora and fauna. For this study, Kothari divided the state into three food zones – pearl millet, sorghum and maize. Arna Jharna has a gallery of rare musical instruments. Many of them are not in use any more but their sounds and style are part of the audiovisual archive at the museum, which contains up to 8,000 hours of recordings Kothari carried out over several decades. There are fields of all three crops at Arna Jharna where schoolchildren visit in groups to know about them. There are more than 250 plants here, many of which have traditional medicinal value. “My father wanted people to remember what nature had given to the state and keep using this wealth,” says Kuldeep, adding that visitors are told about medicinal plants and encouraged to grow them so that they don’t become extinct.

There are open wells and mud bunds to conserve rainwater. “We have tried to keep everything natural,” Kuldeep adds. Arna Jharna also has a broom museum, which offers a brief history of broom-making techniques and displays more than 200 types of brooms made from a variety of shrubs and plants in different parts of the state. There are different sections for brooms used to sweep the outdoors and the ones used inside. “As one goes around the broom museum, interviews with broom-makers run on a television screen for visitors to get a better insight into how this object of daily use can be used to learn about balance between ecology and culture,” says Prof Sanjeev Bhanawat, head of Centre for Mass Communication at the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, who recently took a group of journalists to the museum on a field visit for a workshop on development journalism. “In most museums, you find objects which are related to dead traditions. But my father wanted to exhibit living traditions so we collected brooms from different parts of the state for this exhibition. People come here wondering what they need to know about this object of daily use and go back informed about our traditions. The brooms are specific to areas and communities,” says Kuldeep. The Rupayan Sansthan, he adds, continues to work with communities to help them conserve their tradition knowledge. “Our collaboration with engineers of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Jodhpur, is one such initiative. They have designed a ceramic water filter through traditional pottery techniques and are training potters to make it so that every village can have access to clean drinking water without depending on government’s piped water,” he adds. “The GenNext of potters were not interested in pottery. This technological intervention has revived their interest in this traditional work,” says Anand Plappali of department of mechanical engineering, who worked on the project.

Though Komal Kothari passed away in 2004 soon after the opening of the museum, his vision and legacy continues to inspire the members of Rupayan Sansthan, who are working on digitising the musical archive at Arna Jharna. The enormous archive contains rich ethnographical interviews with artisans, potters, musicians and practitioners of indigenous medicine over more than 40 years. Komal Kothari endeavoured to give a platform to caste musicians such as Langas, Manganiars and Kalbelias, making sure, at the same time, that the intellectual property of these musicians was protected. Many artistes in Rajasthan swear by Komal Da’s contribution in taking these musicians to international stages and popularising them in India as well. Kothari died in 2004, the year he was awarded India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Bhushan. Detha received the fourth highest civilian honour, the Padma Shree in 2007. He passed away in 2013. Rupayan Sansthan conducts workshops with stakeholders in the folk and cultural sphere. Some prominent professors of religion and anthropology are associated with these events.

Emeritus reader of Sanskrit at Cambridge University, John Smith researched for his monumental monograph, The Epic of Pabuji, using the transcripts and recordings of the Rupayan Sansthan. Other scholars who have been closely associated with the Rupayan Sansthan through workshops, seminars and research are Ford-Maxwell Professor of South Asian Studies and Director, South Asia Center, Syracruse University, Prof. Susan Wadley; and Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion and Professor of Anthropology at Syracruse University Prof. Ann Gridzen Gold. Rakesh Kumar is a writer based in Jaipur, India.

- http://gulfnews.com/culture/arts/a-museum-of-folk-traditions-1.2136349, Dec 6, 2017

Jaipur's new sculpture park is the first of its kind in India

Eight months ago, Peter Nagy and Aparajita Jain of Delhi’s experimental art gallery Nature Morte visited Jaipur’s Nahargarh Fort, and began planning the creation of India’s first sculpture park for contemporary art. They collaborated with the government of Rajasthan and corporate sponsors like Shreyasi Goenka (content advisor, DNA) to launch The Sculpture Park at Madhavendra Palace, inside the 18th century fort that overlooks the Pink City. Jain is also the founder-director of Saat Saath Arts, the non- pro t foundation that is funding the project, which will open to the public on December 10. “Peter and I had been speaking about the need for public art venues, and he suggested the use of heritage spaces in India for contemporary sculptures,” says Jain.

Curated by Nagy, the year-long exhibition will showcase the works of eight international and several Indian artists, including Bharti Kher, Subodh Gupta, Huma Bhabha and Thukral & Tagra. The Maharaja’s apartment inside the palace will feature sculptures by the late French-American artist Fernandez Arman for the first time in India. The current show will continue till December 2018, after which Saat Saath Arts will organise the next year-long exhibition in collaboration with new artists. Talking about his curatorial process, Nagy says, “The palace, as one experiences it now, is an empty monument. It was built to be a site of luxury, eroticism and intrigue. I wanted to bring some of this back.”

To give it life, Nagy chose works that use domesticity as a theme. Visitors will be treated to Jitish Kallat’s Annexation, Kher’s Impossible Triangle and Thukral & Tagra’s Memorial series, all of which recall household objects, such as clothing and furniture, among other diverse subjects. For Thukral & Tagra, The Sculpture Park is a step in the right direction. “We always complain about the lack of museums in India. [But we] don’t have to build new ones; we should use the spaces we already have,” they say. The objective of the initiative is not to only draw attention to contemporary art, but to also enable the masses to engage with the artworks. Malvika Singh, a member of Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s advisory council, who also worked on the project, believes that partnerships between the government and private enterprises are key to popularising public art venues. “Public art does not demand a membership card. It is, fundamentally, a great leveller,” she says.

- http://elle.in/culture/world-youngest-queen-jetsun-pema/, Dec 6, 2017

Google To Showcase India's Cultural Heritage At Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus

Passengers at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus can now watch informative videos while waiting for their train, thanks to a partnership between Indian Railways and Google. The tech company will bring commuters rich cultural stories via video installations for the next two months. The videos are from the Google Arts and Culture platform, Google's online platform for the world's culture. The screens invite daily commuters and long-distance travellers to explore India's cultural heritage, its beauty and treasures, such as miniature paintings, bronze sculptures and Rabindranath Tagore's paintings.

This immersive technology also enables travellers to get a glimpse of some of India's greatest monuments in 360 degrees, like the Red Fort, the Ajanta Caves, and the highlight -- a never-available-before vista from atop the Taj Mahal's Minar. The initiative was unveiled by SDK Sharma, General Manager, Central Railway; RK Verma, Secretary, Railway Board; Ben Gomes, Vice President (Search), Google and Patron of Google Arts and Culture; Principal Heads of Departments of Central Railway; Subrata Nath, Executive Director (Heritage) and other officials.

- https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/mumbai/other/google-to-showcase-indias-cultural-heritage-at-chhatrapati-shivaji-maharaj-terminus/articleshow/61971164.cms, Dec 7, 2017