Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

red shawl


Pashmina Wool with jari embroidery

late 19th century CE



In Indian textile tradition, pashmina shawls from Kashmir hold a pride place. They were made of wool from a special breed of goat called pashm. A single shawl was a result of the collective efforts of spinners, dyers, designers, weavers and embroiders. The designs composed of buta, badami (almond), ambi or kairi (paisely), meander and flora, khat-rast (stripes) and shikargah (hunting) motifs. The craft of making the woollen shawls received immense patronage from Mughal emperors. As mentioned in the Ain-i-Akbari, Emperor Akbar gave these shawls the name param naram meaning very soft. It was a special prerogative of the royal to wear such shawls. Others could wear it only if it was presented by the ruler or permitted by him. In the 17th and the 18th centuries, both embroidered and woven shawls from Kashmir were in great demand by the Europeans and by affluent families in India. In the 20th century, Parsis considered these shawls at the time of weddings in particular. Apart from shawls, doshalas (shoulder mantle), patkas (sash or kamarbandha), rumals (square shawls), jamewars (garment piece to stitch jama) were also made.

new current months

Palanquin Bearers

Watercolour on Mica

South India

19th century CE


Miniature paintings on transparent sheets of mica were popular in India in the 19th Century as they were sold to British tourists as souvenirs. Known for their intense colours and delicate forms, mica paintings hold an intrinsic heritage value. These paintings were made by Indian painters, to suit the demands of the British in an Indo-European style. As the paintings were mainly commissioned by the British Company officials, they are known as Company school paintings.

Mica is a transparent material made of potassium silicates, found in South India as well as in parts of Bihar. As a painting medium, the thin sheets of mica are painted using gouache. Its smooth structure does not let the paint sink in and the colours applied to it appear exceptionally bright. Due to the highly smooth surface of mica, it became essential for the artists to use a binding medium with the colours to create these works. In a few of the paintings, colour has been applied to both the front and the back surfaces of the sheet—to enhance the opacity of the pigment. This approach makes the paintings appear three-dimensional.

object of the month october 2009.13

Netsuke in shape of skeleton with a mallet



19th century


Halloween is an annual holiday celebrated each year on October 31. It originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the 8th century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honour all saints - All Saints Day; which then incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes, eating sweet treats and divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories, and watching horror films.

The Japanese have many wild and wonderful legends of ghostly beings, known as Yokai, and one of the most malevolent of them all is the Gashadokuro. The name literally translates to “starving skeleton”

object of the month october 2009.13

Rama remembering Sita at the Advent of Autumn

Folio from an illustrated manuscript of the Ramayana

Pahari, Basohli

circa 1715

ascribed to Nurpur by Archer; to Manaku of Guler by Goswamy


This painting depicts a scene from the Kishkindha Kanda of the Ramayana, which is inscribed on the reverse. After the death of Vali, Rama and Lakshmana live on a hill for the duration of the rainy season before Sugriva can join them in the search for Sita. The rainy season gives way to autumnal breezes. It is described in the Ramayana: “Rama seated on a peak shining with minerals”.

Rama and Lakshmana are seated on a peak. Distressed at the thought of Sita, Rama addressees Lakshmana: “look, the chakravakas from the Manasa Lake, their bodies covered with the pollen of lotuses, and spreading their wings, they are resting on the banks of the river”. The full autumn moon in the clear blue sky, a large branch of the willow bent over the two birds between the two trees, half open lotuses in the river, and the flat dark background, lend an unusual charm to this painting.

Satsuma bowl

Satsuma Bowl

Meiji period (1868–1912), c. 1895–1905

Mark: Yabu Meizan in raised gold enamel in a dark red glazed cartouche on the inner foot-ring

Earthenware with glaze and enamel decoration


The style of ceramic which became known as “Satsuma ware” originated in south western Japan but by the early Meiji period such was its popularity amongst Western collectors that manufacture quickly spread to Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo, and Yokohama. The style is characterised by the use of elaborate enamelling and gilding with fine detail, of typical Japanese scenes. It was in fact due to recently imported Western technology that the potters of Japan were able to make further improvements to this ware at the end of the 19th century. From around 1884 a type of “liquid gold” developed at the Meissen Factory in Germany enabled the Satsuma potters to create even more delicate designs on their work. Yabu Meizan (1853–1934) was perhaps the most prolific of these potters; in 1880he opened his workshop in Osaka where he decorated “blanks” produced by Chin Jukan.

Meizan went on to exhibit at domestic and international exhibitions where he gained many awards and made huge sales. His style is evident on this fine bowl: it is decorated with three panels containing birds and wisteria, a temple in wooded mountains, and a scene of children learning calligraphy and playing musical instruments. The interior is decorated with what must be thousands of individually painted minute butterflies, each almost invisible to the naked eye.

object of the month august 2018

Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak


20th century CE


‘Lokmanya’ Bal Gangadhar Tilak (July 23, 1856 - August 1, 1920) was a scholar, mathematician, philosopher and an ardent nationalist. He is considered to be one of the prominent figures of the Indian Independence Movement. He protested against the British rule saying, “Swaraj is by birthright which I shall get it”. He made masses aware of their glorious history and culture by initiating the celebration of Shivajayanti (celebration of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's birth anniversary) and Ganesh Festival. Gandhiji called him “the Maker of Modern India,” and Jawaharlal Nehru described him as “the Father of the Indian Revolution.”