Row 11

Indian Subcontinent

The Indian Collection is immensely varied, dating mostly to the 19th Century with some significant exceptions. An example of the last is sculpture from the region known as Gandhara (north-western India and eastern Pakistan) in Row 10, dating to the first Century BC. It is a style of Greco-Roman origin that developed between the latter date and the seventh Century AD. A similar and contemporary style of sculpture also flourished by way of Kushan art of Mathura (Uttar Pradesh, India). Categories of Indian material on show include carved wood, lacquer, ivory, jewellery, metalwork and models. In terms of metalwork one of the most characteristic Indian techniques is referred to as Bidri ware; an alloy of copper and zinc, with occasional additions of lead and steel powder, which are damascened (inlaid onto other metals). Derived from the name of the town Bidar in Mysore, the main manufacturing centres were Lucknow, Purnea and Murshidabad.

Other noteworthy objects in this row are the hooka and lota. The former is a tobacco pipe that contains a receptacle for holding water through which smoke passes up to a mouthpiece where it is then inhaled. Hookas in the Museum are generally metal based, although those of leather were also collected. The lota is a globular-shaped vessel, which was used to hold water from the Ganges River, water for ceremonial functions or even occasionally milk. Decoration usually combined the 10 incarnations of the god Vishnu, who with Brahma and Siva makes up the Hindu ‘Tri-murti’ or Trinity.

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