Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Exhibition of terra cotta work @ Indian Museum , Calcutta

Indian Museum occasionally wakes from its slumber and  throw crumbs from its enormous holdings to general public. Ruby and I earlier attended an exhibition on 'Shakti' . The  lectures  delivered on the INAUGRAL DAY were not interesting and  curtain-fall that after-noon was too quick as another event was to follow - but, some of the collected statues were exquisite. We carried no camera - therefore, have nothing to show. This time, we took a few photos with the aid of our mobile phone's camera, not particularly good, but adequate for making documentation.


 In this exhibition, we found a collection of terracotta  figures, plaques, pottery, toys  from many corners of undivided India, e.g., Harappa, Rajshahi , Mahashanagarh, Chandraketugarh, Maymansingha etc., starting from 2nd century BC to 16th century AD.   

Prominent among the display  are numerous female figures - goddesses and human.  We found Durga, Maya's dream, LajjaGauri, and many other figures. Also prominent were the birds - a few somewhat grotesque.  Not many could be called 'cute' . The best from Chandraketugarh were not here. 'Ganga's descent'  and 'Ananta sayane Vishnu' - depicting stories from Indian mythology  are worth watching, but, not 'cute'. I liked the 'Lover', 'Doorkeeper' and 'Maya's dream' a lot. Here are a few edited photos from our HDD. 

Ananta-sayane Vishnu. A little too cramped up. 
Vishnu's figure slumping - he looks lost in 'yoganidra' !

Torso of Mahisasura Mardini.

Lajja Gauri - 1800 years old figurine.

Maya dreaming !

 It was our mistake not to carry a pocket note-book and a pen.  Had I planned this blog ahead of the visit to Indian museum, I would have noted down  the dates and archeological sites of the finds. The statue of the 'Doorkeeper' I liked very much - I end this blog with a photo of close-up of  his face & upper torso.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011



Restored Damodar  temple, Bahirgarh, Dt  Howrah

The state of affairs in 2007 . From my blog - 
Temple @ the crossing of Domjur- Jangipara road & left lane to Jagatballbhpur.
Lots of weeds on the top - but wall-reliefs are clean.

Two small temples - not many enthusiasts will seek these temples  out. When Ruby & I visited these two temple 4 years ago in December, 2007, the one @ Bahirgarh was found ravaged by time and the other @ Jagatballabhpur did not look very promising either.

Bahirgarh temple  has since been thoroughly repaired by ASI. Looks much better now. The deity still  stays shifted in his neighbouring make-shift abode - but the structure looks good. In 2007, when I tried to remove a strong root  above the wall-relief on ' Krsna's Birth', locals  stopped me  informing that the adjacent wall was precariously unbalanced and could fall off at the slightest disturbance. Exaggeration though it sounded, the temple was in a pathetic state. The owners, not doing so well, were very disturbed about State's help not coming forth.

The Temple @ Jagatballabhpur has now lots of weeds on its roof - but, the terra cotta work looked far brighter because of maintenance. It is close to the main road - dust-cover is inevitable.But, it seemed that  caring hands have given the terra cotta work on this temple's walls a lot brighter look this year.

Devaki gives birth to  Krsna.  Celebration all around !
Damodar  temple,Bahirgarh, Dt  Howrah

Details of the above - Debaki uses of an inverted 'dhasmaa' - a large hemispherical caned container.

I  shall draw  special attention of the viewers on the vultures , Debaki's use of an inverted 'dhamaa' - a large hemispherical caned container - during child-birth, art of grotesque, apart from convention Rama-Ravana battle and Krsna-Leelaa scenes. There are several other social scenes which are quite interesting ! Specally mentionable is -- social scenes on arches came into vogue from late 18th century. Sribati's temples and this one @ Jagatballabhpur are excellent examples of this practice.

On close scrutiny, we find  a man with moustache and head-gear, 
very likely an Englishman -
perhaps an Indigo Planter - terrorises people with a lash or a sword. In the top LH corner, he has a sepoy to assist him.On the lower RH corner, he whips a naked peasant (?) while a cut-off head lie on the ground. Also watch the horse-bodied woman playing a flute on lower RH corner ! **
Jagatballabhpur,  Dt : Howrah.

A Lanka Yuddha scene - vultures feast on corpses.  Motifs of nice parrots  decorate 
Siva temples built on the edges of the arches.
Damodar  temple,Bahirgarh, Dt  Howrah.

**NOTE :- My friend Amit Guha from London has commented :
" "Also watch the horse-bodied woman playing a flute on lower RH corner!"

This is actually Maricha. This scene with Rama on the left of the arch and Maricha holding the arrow on the right is common in Hugli and Medinipur.