IGNCA Slide Collection

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Ashoolean Museum Collection

(Beginning with this issue, Vihangama will feature a select section of the slides collection of IGNCA)


IGNCA has a collection of slides from Ashmolean Museum, which is the oldest public museums in England and probably in the world.  It was opened to public in Broad Street in 1683 and in the late 19th century its collection was moved to Beaumont Street, Oxford.

The main focus of the museum originally was on the Greco-Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Egyptian Art.  It was in late 18th century that the impetus was given for collection the Indian art.  In the initial stages, the Madras Museum dispatched southern domestic and ritual metal wares, ornaments, textiles, lacquer and wood etc. to the Ashmolean Museum.  The main motivating force behind the acquisition of Indian art was Sir Monier/Monier Willian, Boden Prof. of Sanskrit.

From Bengal, the Museum received handicrafts, devotional images, folk paintings etc.  The Jaipur Museum committee collected Jaipur paintings and arms and from Moradabad metal ware and thereafter, acquisition of Indian Art continued in the museum.

The Indian Art collection in the Museum now includes Hindu, Buddhist and Jain sculptures; folk bronzes; paintings; ritual objects; Mughal miniature paintings and the decorative arts.  The sculptures are from early Indian art, Mathura, Gandhara, Gupta and the post Gupta period.

The late Hindu, Buddhist and Jain sculpture collection are from the Northern and Eastern India, Orissa, Western India, Deccan and South India.

Mother goddess in terracotta C. 200 BC; Head of Tirthankara, Malathura; Goddess Haritia, Mathura; Vishnu, Mathura; are some of the masterpieces of Early Indian Art.  In the Gandhara sculpture collection, birth of Buddha, Pancika and Haritia, and stucco figure of old man are some of the finest specimens.  Shiva and Surya sculpture from Mathura represent the Gupta period.

In the post Gupta period Durga Mahishasuramardini, from Bharatpur, Rajasthan, Lokeswar – Padmapani from Punjab, Surya from Kashmir are some of the best sculptures.  Yoga Narasimha from Orissa dated 14th C. A.D., Virbhadra 16th – 17th C. A.D. Deccan are also unique pieces of art.  In the folk bronze and ritual objects the artifacts from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Banaras, Bengal, Tirupati dated 18-19th Century are the best specimens to study Indian folk art.

Miniature paintings section is also very rich and the earliest Mughal painting in the collection is of Circa-1562-65.  There are also  the paintings of representative schools of Golconda, Malwa, Rajasthan, Punjab Hills and Bengal.

– Dr. Virendra Bangroo



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