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Thursday, December 06, 2007

A museum for timeless beauties in Manipal

UDUPI Dec 1: A stroll through the Museum of Folk Arts at the Heritage Village near here is like taking a walk down the centuries.

The collection of artefacts, paintings, and architectural structures that provide the visitor a view of life and culture of generations gone by is the handiwork of Vijaynath Shenoy, secretary of the Hasta Shilpa Trust. He is the brain behind the Museum.

The journey starts from the shrine of Nandikeshwara, a folk deity shrine ("Daivada Mane"). The architecture belongs to Tulu Nadu and such shrines are still seen in north Udupi.

"We designed the shrine consulting ancient texts. The wooden idols in the shrine were salvaged from water bodies," Mr. Shenoy says.

Wooden idols, at least 1,000 years old, of Abaga Daraga, Kaantha Bare Booda Bare, Veerabhadra, Jettiga, Babbraya and others have been placed on naturally grown laterite boulders. The next stop is a seven-cornered mud-floored "garodi" (prayer hall) of a style that is 10,000 years old. On the left begins the sections where metal work of the Canara region are displayed. Among these are an idol of 500-year-old "Maisandhaya" and a 300-year-old hollow cast idol of Panjurli.

The third section of the museum has items from the Bastar district of Madhya Pradesh. Masks of wood that are 200 years old, 140-year-old metal statues, and stone statues of "Sharadula" (the lion), 90 to 120 years old, are displayed here.

"We penetrated deep into the jungles to get these articles," Mr. Shenoy says.

Agricultural equipment, items of daily use such as cane baskets prepared by tribal people, churning rods, and cash boxes used in ancient period occupy another section.

This has costumes used in the Tenkuthittu and Badagathittu Yakshagana in earlier times, folk instruments, costumes used in Doddatta, Mudalpaya Yakshagana, and Somana Kunitha. The most interesting of the collections are of pre-historic idols that are 3,000 to 4,000 years old.

"We found these idols in the Aganashini River Valley in Uttara Kannada district," he says.

His plan is to open Archival Museum of Raja Ravi Verma.

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