MEDIEVAL INDIAN SCULPTURE SECTION
The most attractive item of this section is a huge seated image of Devi from Sholapur in Maharashtra and a seated stone image of Jina figure from Vijaynagar in South India. Most of the other Medieval Indian sculpture of the collection of the Museum are of the Brahmanical faith and they hail from Agroha and Pinjore in Haryana and a few stray sites from Punjab, Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.
Also distinctive are a few metal images from Nagapattinam in South India. A standing image of the Vaikuntha form of Vishnu from Fatehpur in Kangra district is an attraction in view of it being inscribed on the pedestal. Some representative examples of metal sculptures from Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir, Nepal and Tibet also adorn this section of metal sculptures.
EPIGRAPHY AND NUMISMATICS SECTION
The museum has a representative collection of Indian coins starting from punch marked coins. There are a few examples of tribal coins and also of the issues of the foreign rulers like the Indo-Greeks, Indo-Scythians and Indo-Parthians. Important varieties of Kushana coins also add to the treasure of the collection. Quite a good number of Gupta gold and silver coins are also there to enable us to trace the development in numismatic art. Gupta gold coins in the collection of the museum give a glimpse of the aesthetic standard reached at during this period. A beautiful silver coin of Harshavardhana of c. 7 th century A.D. represents the post Gupta coins of Indian rulers. A number of Sultanate and Mughal coins enrich the numismatic collection of the museum. The Mughal coins including some gold coins show the excellence of the art of the period. Important coin types of the Sikh regime and also that of different states of India are the prized collection of the museum. Similarly, many varieties of the British period coins add to our knowledge of the currency system which was operative during this period.
The epigraphy section is also quite representative with a number of lithic and copper plate inscriptions presently in the holding of the Museum. Of the stone slab inscriptions mention should first be made of the one written in Brahmi characters in Sanskrit language containing the information that it was issued as a token of a donation for well which was got prepared by Maharaja Kadambeshvara, a local feudatory king of later Kushana line. The date records month of Margasirsa (spring season). Several other stone slab inscriptions written in Nagari and Sarda script but in Sanskrit language are also there in the collection.
A few copper plate inscriptions in Nagari script and local dialect also form part of the epigraphy section. They mostly refer to land grants and other related administrative information of the late 18th through the 20th centuries. Some stone slabs containing the tantric Buddhist Mantra: om mani padme hum written in Tibetan script enrich the collection.
The most prizes collection in the epigraphic section of the Museum is in the form of two Kharoshti inscriptions of Gandhara art. Both of them belong to Kushana period. The first one is written on one side of the celebrated Gandhara sculpture representing the Buddhist mother goddess Hariti from Skarah Dheri. It is probably dated in the year A.D. 121, and it contains the information that the image was donated by somebody to gain grace of the Mother for the protection of the children.
Another very important inscription is found on the middle of the exterior side of a stone bowl having a lid over it. It records as follows:
|Relic Casket with Kharoshti Script, Gandhara
c 2nd century A.D., Taxila, Pakistan
Click to enlarge
Translation: The two brothers Srihalana and Siharakshitana of Takshasila (Taxila) offer this bowl as token of worship of all the Buddhas (savabuddhan).
Epigraphy and Numismatics are two important branches not only of the sources of Indian history, but also the evidence of excellence in art forms and in technological developments not usually given much notice in art galleries and museums.
A good number of folk sculptures, mostly from the Bastar region of Madhya Pradesh, and Kangra and Kulu of Himachal Pradesh also draw attention of art lovers. In this connection mention should be made of some representative examples of Kulu masks in metal and also a few examples of the arts of papier machie, metal pottery, bone and ivory items, ceramics and glass paintings mostly of the late period.