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Showcasing Heritage

Aftab Jalia

Chandramani Singh
Mapin Publishing, Ahmedabad , in association with Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur
, 2009, pp. 255, Rs. 3000.00

Edited by Chandramani Singh
Mapin Publishing, Ahmedabad , in association with Department of Archaeology and Museums, Rajasthan, 2009, pp. 120+157 colour illustration, Rs. 1295.00


The theme central to the two books: is Rajasthan’s tradition of arts and crafts. Rajasthan enjoys the distinction of being home to some of India’s oldest museums, hosting collections from the pre-historic age to the late 19th century. Owing to the British Governor General of India, Lord Curzon’s famed interest in surveying, reviving and showcasing India’s heritage, Rajasthan’s royal families initiated projects to collate and display their magnificent traditions during his tenure. As a result, colonial India saw the establishment of museums in Rajasthan starting from Jaipur’s Albert Hall Museum (1887) followed shortly by Udaipur, Ajmer, Mewar, Jodhpur, Jhalawar, Bikaner, Kota, Alwar into independent India’s efforts to establish numerous other museums in various cities of the state. Years on, through the publication of these two books, the Rajasthan Government has undertaken the same Herculean task to revitalize interest in collections hosted across the state while educating readers of the innumerable objects that not only testify to Rajasthan’s rich history of arts and crafts but also the state’s drive to bring its heritage under one umbrella. Museums of Rajasthan and Treasures of the Albert Hall Museum Jaipur set out on this incredibly challenging task to unfailingly deliver enough visual and cerebral delights. Richly illustrated, the Museums of Rajasthan is a compendium of what the important museums of Rajasthan have to offer, while Treasures of Albert Hall Museum Jaipur takes a detailed look into its beautiful building and specific collections. Rajasthan’s interest in museum activity dates back to its participation in the European and Indian industrial exhibitions. In those times, Rajasthan was still a collection of princely states—the Rajputana province, often having Britain-educated princes who with their fairly anglicized sensibilities were also well aware of the museum movement in Europe. Since the idea of displaying heritage, wealth and treasure to the public on special occasions was also a traditional Indian monarchial concept, our princes quickly conceded the idea of setting up museums in their own states. Complementing this trend were the simultaneous discoveries of antiquities across numerous archaeological sites in Rajasthan under the leadership of both British and Indian archaeologists. Some of these findings included prehistoric era tools found in Chittor, 3rd century terracotta toys found in Bikaner and a 4th century ornamental pillar (torana stambha) found at Mandor. It is important to note that the museums throughout Rajasthan however do not ...

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