South Asian Collections
Thursday evening (10th November) saw the third of three Events held this week at the RAS. On Monday 7th Francis Gooding and Noah Angell, both independent film makers, spoke concerning Lux Imperium – a project involving amateur movies of the British Empire held in the Bristol Records Office Collection.
Then on Tuesday 8th the RAS was pleased to host a launch of John Baily’s book ‘War, Exile and the Music of Afghanistan’, recently published in the SOAS Musicology Series at Routledge. John Baily and Veronica Doubleday also gave a musical performance, followed by a video from the non-profit non-governmental organisation Afghanaid. We are grateful to all those who gave generously to the collection to support Afghanaid.
On Thursday 10th Imma Ramos, Curator at the South Asian Collection of the British Museum came to share concerning the new South Asian Galleries which will be opening in November 2017. She expressed how they are seeking to provide a chronological journey through their South Asian Collections which will enable material, that has long been in storage, to be viewed by the public.
The refitting and reorganization of the South Asia Collection means that currently this section of the British Museum is closed. However the RAS is still open and we have some South Asian treasures of our own. So I thought I would tempt you in to see our collections by just highlighting a few:
This gouache painting of Rana Bhim Singh of Udaipur (1778-1828) is part of the Colonel James Tod Collection. This is just one of many paintings that he donated to the RAS, both by Indian and western artists. Many of them are in exquisite detail and well worthy of a visit.
This is a Maharashtra design for the game of Snakes and Ladders dating to c.1800. This again is a gouache painting on paper but then mounted on cloth. This is one of the items that is on display in the Reading Room and which brings a smile to my face when I come into work.
Vishnu flies on Garuda to rescue the royal elephant that has become entangled with a water-creature in this gouache painting dating to around 1823 and which is part of the Hodgson Collection.
Just three of our treasures – and here is another –
This 1792 painting by James Wales depicts Madhu Rao Narayan, the Maratha Peshwa with Nana Fadnavis and attendants (though of course, our President is also a treasure!). Unfortunately you can not see this painting currently at the RAS. Dr Johnson is pictured with the portrait in its current location at the National Gallery in Singapore, where it forms part of the Artist and Empire: (Re) Countering Colonial Legacies Exhibition.
You are welcome to come and view any of these treasures, and many more besides, whenever the Reading Room is open. But if you would like a special close-up encounter with some of our collections then you will be pleased to know that this year, as part of Explore Your Archives Week, we are again running a creative writing workshop. Dr Emma Filtness will encourage our creativity to “flow” as we come up close to some of our water themed collections. Please see the poster below for full details and make sure to book your place – we are limited to taking 15 people.