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Museums DOLLS MUSEUM
By Tamarapu Sampath Kumaran
Southern News Bureau
59, 1st Main Road, Besant Nagar CHENNAI – 600090 - India
About the Author:
Mr T Sampath Kumaran is a freelance writer. He regularly contributes articles on Management, Business, Ancient Temples, and Temple Architecture to many leading Dailies and Magazines. His articles are, popular in “The Young World section” of THE HINDU His e-books and articles on Hindu deities, Festivals, Nature, and different cultures of people around the world are educative and of special interest to the young. He was associated in the production of two Documentary films on Nava Tirupathi Temples, and Tirukkurungudi Temple in Tamilnadu. These e-book series are being presented, since reference books seem to be losing patronage among the younger generation. The internet, which has crept into study rooms, is slowly showing the encyclopedia and reference books borrowed from libraries their way out. Students consider the internet a worthy alternative.
The English word "museum" comes from the Greek - Mouseion, which denotes a place or temple dedicated to the Muses, the patron divinities in Greek mythology of the arts. Museums enable people to explore collections for inspiration, learning and enjoyment. There are tens of thousands of museums all over the world Locations depicting ruins can also be considered as Museums. The oldest are The Indus Valley Civilization- 3300–1700 BCE.
The term civilization also designates the complex of cultural elements that first appeared in human history between 8,000 and 6,000 years ago. At that time, on the basis of agriculture, stock-raising, and metallurgy, intensive occupational specialization began to appear in the river valleys. Such characteristics originally emerged in several different
parts of the prehistoric world: Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, India, central Asia. The Chinese Shrines, and the Egyptian monuments as well the preserved accounts of drawing written on cave walls by cave men and natives and the remains in Pompeii, where the people that died there due to volcanic eruptions are frozen and viewed by the public, like the tombs of the mummies, are other examples. Like any institution dedicated to the memorialization of the past, museums play a substantial role in the construction of ideologies and identities, which is accomplished through a variety of means, in which the past is put on public display. The modern museums are collections of the findings of other people’s civilizations. Of the modern museums the British Museum in London established in 1753 with the acquisition of Sir Hans Sloane’s collection of antiquities and art is claimed to be the
oldest museum in the world. It contains over four million exhibits, which include archeological items, prints, drawings, natural history artifacts, coins, sculptures and other treasures. Museums can be a great source of information about cultures and history. Museums cover the knowledge of history and its relevance to the present and future. Some cover specialized curatorial aspects of history or a particular locality; others are more general. Such museums contain a wide range of objects, including documents, artifacts of all kinds, art, archaeological objects. Museums collect and care for objects of scientific, artistic, or historical importance and make them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. Most large museums are located in major cities throughout the world and more local ones exist in smaller cities, towns and even the countryside. A museum normally houses a core collection of important selected objects in its field. The first publicly owned museum in Europe was the Amerbach-Cabinet in Basel, originally a private collection sold to the city in 1661 and public since 1671 (now Kunstmuseum Basel) There are many types of museums, from very large collections in major cities, covering many of the categories of fine arts, applied arts, craft, archaeology, anthropology and ethnology, history, cultural history, military history, science, technology. These artifacts have been carefully excavated and transported, often thousands of miles, without damage. Besides there are other categories which include:, children's museums, natural history, numismatics, botanical and zoological gardens and philately. An Art museum, also known as an art gallery, is a space for the exhibition of art, usually visual art, paintings, illustrations, and sculpture. Collections of drawings and old master prints are often not displayed on the walls, but kept in a print room. There may be collections of applied art, including ceramics, metalwork, furniture, artist's books and other types of object. Science museums and technology centers revolve around scientific marvels and their history. To explain complicated inventions, a combination of demonstrations, interactive programs and thought-provoking media are used. Some museums may have exhibits on topics such as computers, aviation, railway museums, physics, astronomy, and the animal
kingdom. Science museums, in particular, may consist of planetaria, or large theatre usually built around a dome. Museums may have IMAX feature films, which may provide 3-D viewing or higher quality picture. As a result, IMAX content provides a more immersive experience for people of all ages Although zoos are not often thought of as museums, they are considered "living museums". They exist for the same purpose as other museums: to educate, inspire action, study. Museums in India India has one of the richest treasures as far as precious artifacts and antiques are concerned. The country is the birthplace of two of the oldest civilizations, namely, Harappa and Mohenjo daro as well as several ancient dynasties having one of the largest and richest collection of invaluable relics, excavated remains and other artifacts that belong to the earliest royal families and rulers. In order to preserve these priceless possessions, there are several museums that exist throughout the country. The Museums in India are considered as preservers of national heritage. Though there are numerous museums in India, the leading museums are Salar Jung museum in Hyderabad, National Museum and Birla House in New Delhi, the Bombay Natural History Society and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj museum in Mumbai, Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum in Bangalore, and Dolls Museum, New Delhi. Dolls: Dolls have been around since the dawn of human civilization, and have been fashioned from a vast array of materials, ranging from stone, clay, wood, bone, cloth and paper, to porcelain, china, rubber and plastic. A doll is generally an object that represents a baby or other human being, and also includes likenesses of animals and imaginary creatures. It is found that dolls have been a part of human imagination. Sometimes votive figures, sometimes toys, they survived fashion trends through the ages, pleasing all those who cherished and still cherish them. Dolls gained the French name of “poupee” (doll), which probably comes from the Latin words “puppa” or “pupa”. Although it is difficult to define the doll's origin, a few ancient objects coming of Antiquity tell us that dolls were part of Greeks and Romans lives at this era.
Most of the time, the dolls were religious objects. Some of the dolls were found laid down with mummies in burial places. Dolls were also found dedicated to God, in Greek and Egyptian temples. In India they are dedicated to be blessed with off springs. . In ancient times, dolls were used as representations of a deity, and played a central role in religious ceremonies and rituals. From primitive to more elaborate forms, depending on the society from which they came, dolls have left behind them traces of a quiet happiness typical of childhood play. Thus, we invariably find them associated to the everyday life of little girls or collected by rich heirs, princes and other nobility.
For the little child, the everyday actions of dressing, feeding or do the hair of her doll is the perfect occasion to prepare for her role as a mother. It is found that during Renaissance, girls of royal court learned with their dolls the strict codes of court etiquette. While dolls have traditionally been toys for children, they are also collected by adults, for their nostalgic value, beauty, historical importance or financial value. Each period of history reveals a lot of things on who played with the dolls, who made them, who collected them. Dolls have always been created as folk art in cultures around the globe Porcelain dolls from Germany have always been a favorite of collectors. Although made in Germany, they are referred to as China dolls, perhaps because porcelain was invented by the Chinese. The dolls were highly prized for their almond eyes and bow mouths and later, their cherub-like baby faces. Doll making is a major commercial industry, and there are hand made dolls as well machine made ones. Quite a few brands are popular throughout the world. Dolls Museum, New Delhi: Housed in the Children’s Book Trust building Shankar’s International Dolls Museum, Set up by the renowned political cartoonist, K Shankar Pillai, has one of the largest and best collections of costume dolls anywhere in the world.
The founding idea behind the Museum of all nationalities sharing one roof was to promote peace and harmony among the people around the world.
The museum is divided into two halves, one section displays exhibits from European countries, the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Commonwealth of Independent States, other Asian countries, the Middle East, Africa and India.
The museum started with a thousand dolls. Between 1965 and 1987 another 5,000 were added – a vast majority coming as gifts. Today the volume has increased to 6,500 exhibits from almost 85 countries, truly giving it an international character. There are also special displays besides a representative collection from the over 150 kinds of authentic Indian costume dolls made at the dolls workshop attached to the museum. In the Dolls Workshop each doll is handcrafted after meticulous research into the physical attributes, dress and jewellery of individual characters. Indian dolls made at the workshop are exchanged for gifts received from abroad as well as sold to collectors and museums in India and abroad In the pageant are characters from India’s unique classical dance, Kathakali, with its splendid costumes. Other dolls of special interest are Boys and Girls Festival dolls from
Japan, replica Dolls of the Queen’s collection (UK), Maypole Dance from Hungary, Kabuki and Samurai dolls from Japan, Flamenco dancers from Spain, Women’s Orchestra from Thailand, and Kandy Pehara from Sri Lanka.
The highlights of the costume dolls are ones that have come from Rajasthan, Kashmir and Kerala, a 250-year-old doll from Switzerland, Maypole dancers of Hungary, Flamenco dancers of Spain; the Kabuki dancer of Japan, a scene from the Ramayana imported from Thailand, Bridal pairs of Indonesia, Kandy Perahera Festival of Sri Lanka and many more. There are also special displays on themes such as Man on the Moon, Gandhiji's Dandi March, A Kathakali Stage and others.
Dressed in their respective regional costumes, the dolls represent the social life, culture, climate and folklore of the region or place they come from. Thus, the museum can aptly be described as the confluence or meeting place of various acculturations and social life of the world. Of all the exhibits, nearly one-third of the total number of dolls belongs to different parts of our country showcasing India's vast and varied social life and tradition.
The prime attraction of the museum is the Doll Workshop. Here one can see a lot of people working to make a doll look absolutely perfect. Not only are they exchanged for foreign dolls, it is also sold to the tourists. Representing the cultures of various countries, the dolls are truly representative of a world with in harmony.
Acknowledgement: Courtesy – Google.com and the authorities of the Museum for use of some of the photographs for this e-book.
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