Pune’s Irawati Karve Museum is anthropologists’ heaven
The museum is divided into three galleries, called footprints, home and Hearth and celebration galleryUpdated: Feb 18, 2019 16:32 IST
Set up on the ground floor, covering 3000 sq ft of space is a unique Museum, within the Department of Anthropology, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Bhavan of Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU).
Called the Irawati Karve Museum of Anthropology, it gives takes us on journey of beginning of mankind, with emphasis on documentation and preservation of various articles totalling to 1090 that have cultural values collected on field trips by Anthropologists over the years since the independent department of Anthropology was set up in 1977.
This museum was established in April 1978 and on December 15,1993, as an ode to Irawati Karve, founder of the department and as one of the most illustrious anthropologists, this museum was renamed after her.
The moment one enters the grated gate, a display of vibrant masks from the Warli tribe on either side of a photograph of Irawati Karve’s greets you, commemorating her contribution to this field and also giving an insight of artefacts that have been collected from different parts of India during Ethnographic fieldwork.
The museum is divided into three galleries, called Footprints, home and Hearth and celebration gallery.
The footprints gallery is all about the journey of Evolution of human being. It has various milestones on display like the valued collection of plastic casts of fossils related to contemporary primates donated by Wenner- Gren Foundation, New York, - skull of a male Gorilla, Java man, Narmada man as well as the modern man. As one moves around the glass displays, stone tools like chopper tools, hand axes, cleaver and Neolithic tools which help a number of students in the study of Archaeology, Palaeoanthropology and Human Evolution.
The second gallery also known as the Material Cultural artefacts gallery contains exhibits of fishing, agricultural and hunting equipment’s used by the various tribes of India. The head of Department, Shaunak Kulkarni explained, “This gallery has many kinds of Jale ( fishing nets), Asavi, Alara and Mali, traps for catching birds and water hens. It is interesting to note that these were all made locally using bamboo, cane, rope and feathers.”
This gallery has on display bows and arrows from various tribes like Korwa, Bhil, Purum, Madia Gond, Bodo, Oraon, Naga and Chenchu tribes of India.
Also interesting is the model of iron smelting furnace belonging to Agariya Tribes of Bastar, Chattisgarh, besides the usual household items like clay models of grinder, karahi (clay bowl), lamp, Beaker, Chisang (wooden spoon), Dovi ( wine drinking pot) , Murum ( measure) etc. What attracts many of the school stuents who visit this museum is the rare large dhol, from the Bhillar tribe in Nandurbar which is collected from a field trip in 1969.
The third gallery is the Celebrations gallery, aptly named so for it displays colourful items used by the tribes during festivities. Thus one can see some interesting ornaments made from beads, silver, shells and threads, each piece unique, especially the variety of handmade wooden combs which also has an interesting story that the girl who received maximum number of combs from boys, spoke of her beauty in tribes of Gadchiroli. Also on display are the various musical instruments as well as their dresses. The colourful and attractive masks leave an imprint of the life lived by the Thakar and Warli tribes, while a glass displays shows objects used in rituals and dance, while terracotta figurines depict the offerings and ritual icons used by many tribes. As one walks around, there are several paintings from Madhubani, Warli and Gond which give an insight into their daily life.
The museum is open from 11.30 am to 5.30 pm excluding 1st and 3rd Saturday and Government holidays and is open to all.
Tania Roy, is a second year student from assam studying MSc in Anthropology, said, “This museum offers unique perspectives and also indepth study of lifestyle and variations in the culture of the ethnic tribes, which is interesting for students who are studying cultural anthropology. Most of the displays also show how deeper the study has been conducted and also giving us a scope to look into the intricate details during our research.”
First Published: Feb 17, 2019 17:26 IST