Finally, I was able to take a tour to the Assam State Museum today. The museum has a sprawling mansion spread over three storeys and has a unique collection of artifacts, paintings, and sculptures preserved for the visitors. My short trip inside the museum today of two hours was full of information, and an enlightening experience. Presenting a photo-tour of the museum….
As I entered through the gates, the first artifact that I encountered was a 16th Century Snake Pillar of the reign Swargadeo Suhummong which was as a declaration of a treaty between the former and the Misimis in which the Misimis would give the Ahoms four basket-fulls of poison in exchange of which the Misimis would be allowed to dwell in the hills.
The First Floor
The first floor has a painting gallery depicting the various life phases of Mahatma Gandhi. Numerous photographs framed exquisitely and preserved inside the gallery gives a short insight into the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi, his childhood, adolescence and his transformation from a normal man to the Mahatma. The centre of the gallery poses an impressive effigy of the Mahatma.
I further explored the next room which was a painting gallery and had a collection of paintings of different styles, contemporary, oil on canvas, and fine art too. One of those paintings that instantly drew my attention was that of the war of Mahabharata, painted on fabric with fine brush strokes, and gave a panoramic view of the various episodes of the entire story.
The Second Floor
The second floor had the depiction of a typical Assamese Village with the explanation of the various norms of the community. A unique social institution called the Khel binds together all the small colonies (known as Chook, Kuchi or Paras) of different castes together within a particular village. The Khel governs the religious and social matters of the village and is generally the decision making body in the village.
A Namghar, is akin to a ceremonial area where the events of the village such as religious and cultural meetings take place. It also is a place where the people gather for celebrating their annual festivals and to resolve their internal disputes.
Further ahead was the replica of a village household with the description of its various rooms. Choraghar- The Drawing Room, Barghar– The Main House, Sorughar- The Subordinate House, Paakghar- The Kitchen House, Dhekisal- The Mortar House, Tatsal- The weaving shed, Gohalighar– The cattle shed, Bharalghar- The Granary constitute the house of a typical villager.
The Third Floor
The third floor was the Ethnography gallery having a collection of decoratives, wooden and earthen utensils, pots, urns, lampshades, bamboo furniture, fabric wall-hangings, paintings, drapery and shawls and all items that displayed the intricate artistry of the local handicraft industry. The rapid industrialization of the state has deeply affected the local village economy rendering severe damage to the age old local culture and customs.
The Alley had a collection of stone artifacts and statues as old as the 16th Century. The museum has well-preserved the age old artifacts and consists of sculptures of Lord Vishnu, Lord Agni, Lord Surya, Lord Shiva (Nataraja), Goddess Ganga to name a few.
Back to the Ground Floor
Finally, as I made my way to the ground floor down the alley, I entered the last of the galleries which was an Arms & Ammunition Gallery. Containing arms and weapons of the medieval period to the modern weapons of the WW-II, this gallery has a collection of swords, spears, machine-guns, rifles, and drop bombs. It reminded of the ages of violence and blood-shed that the state has witnessed, yet able to come up with such magnificence in culture.
An insightful video programme called the Lightning Testimonies also formed a part of the museum visit; the programme highlighted the real-life events and incidences of atrocities on women and was showcased as a tribute to protection of the rights and respect of the women in the society at large. The video show is a conception of Mr. Amar Kanwar, and was scheduled to end this month; however it has gained immense popularity because of its subject and real life projections and hence has been extended for another month until the end of June. I can only say one thing- it was breathtaking, see it to believe it!!!
It was time to bid a good bye here, as I had plans to move further ahead, to venture the rest of Guwahati ‘properly’ today. The visit to the Assam State Museum’ was long overdue. This time, I made the most of the opportunity and for me, it was a lucky day today.