Wednesday, 29 February 2012

RangSutra and INTACH Event

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and RangSutra are holding an event on traditional Indian crafts. They describe it as an invitation to discover "our traditional crafts and unique products".

RangSutra describe themselves as "a company of a thousand artisans from remote regions of India – the deserts of Rajasthan, hill regions of Uttaranchal and Assam.

Our goal is to ensure sustainable livelihoods for artisans and farmers, by creating top quality hand made products based on the principles of fair trade and a celebration of India’s rich craft heritage."

71 Lodi Estate, New Delhi
2-4th March, 11am to 9pm.

Images: INTACH logo, promotional poster for the event.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

150th ASI Anniversary, and PM's Speech

In December 2011 the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) had its 150th anniversary. This is a little belated but I am well overdue on catching up on posts.

The Prime Minister gave a speech on the occasion, the theme of which was largely how urbanization is threatening our monuments. Now this is a very serious issue in archaeology, and it's particularly important that in our rush to modernise we don't destroy all the heritage that we have, because, and trust me on this, we'll regret it later.

So all I can say to Manmohan Singh is pretty much, Yes indeedy. Now it would be nice if the government took a little more action instead of just paying lip service to heritage issues.

Islamic Stepwells in Gujarat

Here's a bit of archaeological eye candy for you today- Archaeology magazine did a recent feature on the visually stunning- and often still used today!- stepwells of Gujarat. I absolutely loved these beautiful, lavishly carved medieval wells on childhood visits to Gujarat, and the article describes how the tradition is about a millennium old and was practiced by Hindu and Islamic dynasties alike.

I didn't want to nick the photos, but if you click on the link you won't be disappointed.

Restoring Humayun's Tomb

Here's an interesting piece about restoring Humayun's Tomb.

Image- Humayun's Tomb, 2010. Copyright Alex Adwick.

Inscription in Edakkal Caves, Kerala

An inscription engraved in early Brahmi characters has been found in the Edakkal Caves, Kerala. The engraving also depicts an anthropomorphic figure with a large phallus, which is often taken by archaeologists to suggest ideas and themes of fertility.

The associated epigrapher, Dr M R Raghava Varier, seems to think so, and in relation with the phallic theme and the inscription, suggests that it might refer to Brahma.

Read the news feature in the Deccan Herald to find out why it's important.

No images, sorry!

Buddhist Artefacts Destroyed in the Maldives

Tragedy recently struck in the Maldives. Amid the current political turmoil, protecting archaeological heritage is probably not a high priority. Unfortunately, vandals attacked the National Museum and destroyed "all but two or three" of about 30 Buddhist statues, some dating to the 6th century BC.

The statues are said to be irrevocably destroyed. The incident echoes the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas by the Taliban in 2001, and for me, the mindless destruction of the Babri Masjid in India. All three incidents involve people destroying religious archaeological artefacts because they disagree with the religions that inspired them.

Like it or not, these things are our heritage, and they are irreplaceable.

Image: Ali Waheed, Director of the National Museum. Photo by Chiara Goia for The New York Times.

South Asian Decorative Arts and Crafts

The SADACC Trust, based in Norwich (England), aims create a record of and promote the decorative arts and crafts of South Asia. The Trust houses a 3000+ collection of arts and crafts, many of which are- unusually- everyday objects and artefacts.

The Trust also has regular exhibitions, such as the current displays of Beadwork from Gujarat and Displays of Rajasthani Folk Heroes.

Those working in the fields of South Asian decorative arts and crafts can contact the Trust for funding for their research.

Images are: Tribal Dolls from Rajasthan, A Carved Bottle Stopper.
Taken from the SADACC website. Copyright © 2012 South Asian Decorative Arts and Crafts

South Asia Archive and Library Group

For those interested in South Asian archives and libraries, there is a blog run by the UK-based SAALG that covers goings on in the field. It has handy information on conferences, seminars, funding, and of course research news.

Linguistic Archaeology and Sanskrit Manuscripts

A new project has "has set out to complete a comprehensive survey of Cambridge University Library’s South Asian manuscript collection, which includes the oldest dated and illustrated Sanskrit manuscript known worldwide.

Written on now-fragile birch bark, palm leaf and paper, the 2,000 manuscripts in the collection express centuries-old South Asian thinking on religion, philosophy, astronomy, grammar, law and poetry."

Click the link to read more.

21st Annual EASAA Conference: Paris, 2012

This summer is the 21st Annual EASAA Conference- that's the European Association for South Asian Archaeology and Art.

The conference will be in Paris from 2 to 6 July 2012 at the Ecole du Louvre.

Although the deadline for abstract submissions has now passed, registration will take place online latest by April.

For more information, visit the EASAA website

Indus Seal Discovery in Pakistan

There was a recent news feature about an Indus seal discovered in Pakistan. These seals, which are one of the most distinctive and evocative forms of material culture associated with the Indus, are generally associated with large urban sites such as Mohenjo-daro, although this is not exclusive.

This particular seal (for which an image is unfortunately unavailable at the moment) unusually depicts an ibex. The leader of the Punjab University team, Farzand Masih, says it may demonstrate regional influence or a separate identity. The seal was found in Cholistan.

For more information, here is the link to the news feature.