Museum of Mirrors

Jul 03 2011, 01:12 IST
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SummaryIf you are an Indian culture enthusiast, here's a an inexpensive and less time consuming way to see the country's cultural wealth

The Children's Museum at Siri Fort has begun housing replicas of sculptures and pieces of Indian art

If you are an Indian culture enthusiast, here's a an inexpensive and less time consuming way to see the country's cultural wealth. Soon, replicas of many famous pieces of Indian art and sculptures will come under one roof. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has begun a process of housing the replicas at the Children's Museum in the Siri Fort complex. So far, 22 replicas from 8 states can be viewed at the museum—the goal is to bring a hundred replicas from every state in the country. The project started in October 2010 and organisers are hoping it will be complete in another year.

“ This is a way to highlight the sheer scale of skill and diversity of artistic activity in the country,” says K K Muhammed, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI. The idea is to bring to the forefront, artistic work which exists in museums and temples of the country. For instance, at the entrance of the museum is a statue of the Rudra Shiva from 6th century C.E., a replica of the sculpture found in Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh, in which each of Shiva's parts is depicted as an animal form.

“ Visitors who come to Agra and Delhi only get to see evidence of Sultanate art of the Mughal era and go back with the wrong impression that this is the only kind of art in the country. We are trying to break the myth,” says Muhammed.

The replicas are being made by students from Banaras Hindu University and Patna University, who are shown photographs of the original pieces. “Normally, we would go to the site, take a mould and then make the replica. But because of limited funds, we had to make do with photographs,” says Muhammed.

Working under these constraints presented some unique challenges. For the sculptors, the biggest problem was the recreation of the exact colour of some of the pieces they sought to replicate. The colour of the granite available in Tamil Nadu, in evidence at the temples in Mahabalipuram, is one example of the difficulties the artisans faced. “Those specific pieces took more than three attempts to make. How young artists from Banaras and Patna who had never seen the real masterpieces, have created the replicas from mere photographs, is a tribute to their skill and mastery. It proves

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