Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya




Illustration from MSS of Ramayana

Rama, Lakshmana and Visvamitra

Rajasthani, Mewar

Dated VS 1706 (1649 CE)

India is the home of the guru-shishya tradition where the pupils stay in the house of the teacher. The teacher is supposed to treat his students as his own sons. This tradition is prevalent even today especially in the fields of music and dance. Education involved not just the study of Vedic hymns, rituals and philosophy, but also the study of the Upavedas which included the study of warfare (Dhanur-veda), health (Ayur-veda), theatre (Gandharva-veda), time (Jyotish-shashtra), space (Vastu-shastra) and polity (Artha-shastra). At the end of the education, students were expected to pay their teacher’s fee before moving out of the teacher’s house. This is called guru-dakshina, a transaction fee, after which all obligations to the teacher were severed.


Vase and Cover

England, Royal Crown Derby,

c. 1890,


Sir D.J. Tata Collection


The tall vase is of two-handled “water drop” form, with bulbous lower part and long, slender neck. It has a circular foot and stands on a separate stepped plinth, modelled with multiple scrolls, beading, and other motifs. The body is decorated in relief with gilded foliage on a red ground, the rising scroll handles have triangular pierced panels of foliage at their bases, and the neck is modelled with openwork scrolls below the domed ogee cover.

The Royal Crown Derby porcelain factory was founded in 1876 as the Derby Crown Porcelain Company and changed its name following a visit by Queen Victoria in 1890. Like Worcester, Derby had been an important centre of the English china industry since the middle of the 18th century and Royal Crown Derby traced its origins to the factory established in about 1756 by William Duesbury.

The late 19th century company was particularly known for its display wares. This particular vase, apparently a previously unrecorded shape, is a technical tour de force and typical of the eclecticism of its age. It is extremely thinly constructed and its plinth is entirely separate. The design is a combination of influences from many different sources. The form of the vase and its high, openwork scroll handles combine elements of gothic revival and Islamic metalwork, while the red body with gilt flowers in more than one colour of gilding is inspired by Japanese lacquer, then extremely sought after in Europe.



Gilt Bronze


13th Century C.E.

Gift from the collection of Smt. Amaravati Gupta


This magnificent gilded figure is Maitreya, the Buddha who is to appear in future. It is one of the most outstanding images from Western Nepal.

Maitreya is the embodiment of compassion. Like all Bodhisattvas, he is enlightened and beyond the bondage of the world.

He is portrayed here wearing a tall mukuta with stupa and adorned with earrings, necklaces, bracelets and other royal ornaments. He stands with eye closed in deep meditation. His smile is benign and beautiful. His left hand holds a kalasha (pitcher) and his right hand is in the vitarka mudra- that of holding a pearl between the thumb and the third finger symbolizing the attainment of knowledge.

Buddhists, wait for Maitreya, the Buddha yet to come.

CommonGreen Magpie 01

The common green magpie (Cissa chinensis) is a member of the crow family, roughly about the size of the Eurasian jay or slightly smaller. It is bright green in color (often fades to turquoise in captivity), slightly lighter on the underside and has a thick black stripe from its bill to the nape. The wings are reddish maroon. Due to excess exposure to sunlight, they often appear turquoise (instead of green) in captivity. After its death, the color of the bird changes into blue. Like other Magpies, the Green Magpies are shy birds and not easy to see.

It is found in the area starting from the lower Himalayas in north eastern India up to central Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra and northwestern Borneo - in a broad south easterly band- in evergreen forest, clearings and scrub.

This bird finds its food both on the ground and in trees. They are carnivorous and mainly feed on arthropods and small vertebrates. It will also eat flesh from a recently killed carcass.

Green magpie builds hefty roofed nests mainly on the trees and tall bushes; often in tangles of various climbing vines. They mainly use sticks, leaves and mud for building their bowl-shaped nest. They usually lay 4–6 eggs at a time. They are also known for their lifelong pairings.

Object of the Month - March 2017




Jiangxi province, China

Late Qing dynasty, 19th century CE

Sir D. J. Tata Collection

Acc. No. 33.1377

The Chinese believe that when all flowers are in bloom, they augur good tidings and bring prosperity. This vase with a tall neck is covered with painted peonies, chrysanthemums, lotus, lilies, pink asters and many other flowers. Known as mille fleur in the West, this motif is known as baihuadi in Chinese, (hundred flower ground). This auspicious design was developed at the Qianlong imperial workshop to signify that the Qing empire would last as long as flowers continued to bloom, the motif flourished during the next two reigns. Though the blue seal on the base indicates that the vase was made in the Qianlong era, the piece was most probably made in the later Daoguang period, as indicated by the second character qing, which is missing a vertical stroke.

When Britain was expanding its political and economic hold over India, an artistic and technological shift was happening that enabled an accurate pictorial record of the country. By late 18th century CE, drawing and painting was making space for variety of prints (lithographs and others) recording the land, its people and their culture. A century later photographs replaced both as a more reliable visual record. After 1770, professional artists began to visit India and observe the country through the eyes of British taste. They made oil paintings for local British residents, as well as drawings, which could later be worked up in England into engravings. Suddenly the market had numerous copies of the same subject.

After the Anglo-Maratha war, the British residents started taking interest in western India. The appearance of Captain Robert Melville Grindlay’s book “Scenery, Costumes and Architecture” shows a shift of interest from Eastern to Central India, Rajputana, Deccan and Gujarat. This print captures the view of the mystical Kailash Temple at Ellora in Aurangabad district, Maharashtra, at a time when India was in the process of discovery. The late 18th to early 19th centuries were a time of many changes. History was transitioning from the medieval to the modern. Such records are important because the mid of the 19th century saw the rediscovery of an ancient India as well as the making of the modern. These prints record India as it was just before this transit.

2007.299 1



Great Excavated Temple at Ellora

By Robert Melville Grindlay (1789 – 1877)

Drawn on the spot for the Hon Lady Hood

By Captain Grindlay in 1813

Coloured aquatint by J. B. Hogarth with etching by G. Rawle

Published in Grindlay’s Scenery, Costumes and Architecture

Chiefly on the western side of India

London, 1826 – 30

Vol. I, pl. 12

Gift by Pauline & Roy Rohatgi