Another thing that Maren and I did in Mumbai was visit the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum (formerly, and more easily, known as the Prince of Wales Museum). The museum is beautiful and massive, and you could easily spend a few days roaming its halls. We, however, limited ourselves to a few hours and only two exhibits: the famous miniature paintings exhibit, and a new exhibit about ancient and modern medicine in India. Both were really superb.
Originally, these paintings were painted onto palm leaves in the 10th century, and later onto paper or cloth in the 14th century. The paintings often depicted illustrations from religious texts, mythologies, portraits, poetry, and legends. They are unique in their size and detail, each one with teeny tiny brush stokes using handmade paints. Some tell elaborate stories on pieces of parchment that are only about 8 inches wide and 13 inches tall. The museum had a collection of 200 of these paintings. Here are a few examples (we were allowed to take pictures because we paid for it… everything has a price in India):
Tabiyat: Medicine and Healing in India
This exhibit just opened on the day we were there and it was very cool. It covered examples of spiritual healing, ancient home remedies, ayurvedic medicine, cultural practices for healing different ailments, and modern technologies that originated in India. The most moving exhibit I saw there was a mural that illustrated India’s history of female infanticide. The first section of the mural showed a crying woman who had just given birth to a baby girl. The scene that followed was the same crying mother killing the baby girl. The next scene was a to-be-mother getting an ultrasound and finding out that the unborn baby is a girl. This is followed by the crying mother getting an abortion. Female infanticide has been a problem in India for centuries and continues to be an issue, particularly for impoverished, uneducated, or unmarried women and families. Part of this is due to the dowry system, which was abolished years ago, but has proven to be a stubborn tradition to break and still continues nationwide. (The dowry system requires that the bride’s family pay a large sum in cash or gifts to the family of the groom. Many families cannot afford this and thus cannot marry of their daughters or they go into permanent debt.)
I didn’t take a photo of this mural because it was too long, but here are some other examples of what we saw and learned at the Tabiyat exhibit.
This is the museum building. So pretty!