Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

akabane in show

Ruyi (Wish Granting Sceptre)


Qing dynasty,

18th century CE

Sir Ratan Tata Art Collection


Ruyi means ‘as you wish’. During the Qing dynasty (1644-1912), many such wish-granting sceptres were made as presents for the emperors, empresses and for courtiers of high rank. They were presented on special occasions such as birthdays and weddings.

Although the sceptres that are in the shape of sacred fungus (lingzhi) symbolizing immortality are themselves auspicious objects, the Chinese further embellished them with auspicious symbols and motifs of blessings. By decoding the symbols on the sceptre, one could understand the occasion for which it was made. The Ruyi were created in many mediums such as cast gold or silver, semi-precious stones like jade and nephrite, wood and lacquer.

This sceptre has a landscape with Shoulao, the God of longevity with an attendant. He is holding a branch of a peach tree symbolizing longevity. The handle is carved with the fungus of immortality, peach tree, bamboo and narcissus representing the phrase “the heavenly immortals bring birthday greetings”. The sceptre has yellow tassels which show that it came originally from the Qing Palace where yellow is the imperial colour. It is encased in a beautiful wooden box.

akabane in show

Title: Akabane in the snow

Series: Fifty Three Stations of Tōkaidō

Material: Wood block print; ink and colour on paper

Period: 19th century CE

Artist: Hiroshige(1797 – 1858)

Provenance: Japan

Acc. No.: 22.1215

The Tōkaidō highway (Eastern Sea Route) between Kyoto and Edo(now Tokyo), built in early times, rose to prominence at the beginning of the 17th century CE with the selection of Edo as the military capital of Japan. This highway is divided into 53 convenient stages or rest steps, with inns and restaurants at each. In 1832, Hiroshige was invited to join an embassy of officials to the imperial court. The resulting series of prints Tōkaidō gojūsan-tsugi [Fifty Three Stations of Tōkaidō]; a product of his sketching of the journey, was extremely successful, and led to firm establishment of his artistic reputation. The set of 55 prints (the 53 stations plus the cities of Edio and Kyoto at either end of the highway) in their unique combination of romance and realism, set a new trend in Japanese prints. This series paved the way for depiction of the whole range of Japan’s scenic beauties in a manner that the common person could readily appreciate. When Europe rediscovered Japanese print at the end of the 19th century, Hiroshige gave Western artists such as Cezanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, Gaugin and Van Gogh a new vision of nature.


Thakur Padam Singh of Ghanerao in durbar

Thikana Ghanerao, Marwar region

V S 1782 / 1725 CE

Artist: Chajju


The artistic patronage in the 18th century spilled over to the local chiefdoms (thikana) administering under the Rajput allies of the Mughal rulers. This painting from thikana Ghanerao follows the contemporary Marwar tradition of court scene set against bold flat mono colour background. Thakur Padam Singh is seen here conducting court proceedings, attended by his noblemen and attentively recorded by his scribes. The painting bears an inscription at the back ascribing it to an artist named Chajju.



A copy of Qajar armour with figures

Steel, Damascened Gold

Indo-Persian style; North India

19th century CE


When the personal belongings of Tipu Sultan found its way to London after his death in 1799, Indian art, especially arms and armour found a new market, in Europe. Personal items belonging to Emperors and Kings were in high demand in the 19th century West. This brought a new opportunity to the Indian craftsmen who were skilled at replicating anything and everything. This sheild is a high-quality production and copy of a Qajar (1794-1925, Iran) work.

A war scene is depicted on the shield. There are exhibits of similar make - a helmet with chain of mail neck guard and arm guards - in the CSMVS collection. These were probably made in Lahore, which was not just an important political city but also a distinguished centre producing arms and armour.



Romain Rolland in conversation with Mahatma Gandhi

Gelatin Silver Print


Gift of Dr. Kalpana Desai

Romain Rolland (1866 – 1944) was a French novelist, dramatist, essayist, musicologist and an idealist. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1915. He was the most eminent and earliest of the foreign admirers of Mahatma Gandhi. He had great regard for Gandhiji. In his Introduction to the French edition of Young India, Romain Rolland said: "If (Jesus) Christ was the Prince of Peace, Gandhi is no less worthy of this noble title." Mahatma Gandhi visited him at Villeneuve in Switzerland, on his way to India after attending the Round Table Conference in London in 1931.

The photograph here taken by Jacob Schlemmer on December 9, 1931 shows Romain Rolland conversing with Gandhi. Rolland’s sister Madeline (seated on the left on Gandhiji) and Mirabehn (Gandhiji’s disciple; formerly known as Madeline Slade) were interpreters to their conversation.


Map of Jambudveep

Tempera on Cloth

110.2(H) x 106.2(W) cm


Circa 1750 CE

Acc. No. L/82.2/34

In Jain cosmology the universe is divided into three worlds: the upper, occupied by the celestials; the middle, by the mortals, including all sentient beings; and the lower, belonging to the damned and the disorderly. The most important among the three is the middle world, manushyaloka, or the world of the mortals. It is the place where liberation from the chain of rebirth is possible and where the Jinas are born.

This 300 year-old Jain map, represents Jain cosmology with Jambudveep as the island-continent of the terrestrial world. Mount Meru is the centre of this universe, at the heart of the continent of Jambudveep, the realm of mortals.