Javanese Wayang Puppetry

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Despite their elaborate appearance, wayang kulit puppets are designed for shadow puppetry. Wayang kulit is the earliest form of puppetry in Java and is known to have been in existence since at least the 10th century, pre-dating Islamic and Indian influences on the island. It remains the most popular form of wayang performance. Kulit means […]

Bandhani textiles

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Bandhani textiles Gujarat, India Bandhani is a general term applied to Indian tie-dyed textiles but it is particularly associated with the fine tie-dye of Gujarat. Thousands of these tiny tie-dyed knots create a delicate puckered pattern design. Some are so fine in pattern and appearance that at first glance do not appear to be tie-dye […]

Woodcutters Jeypore

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Woodcutters Jeypore. 1914. Etching. Mortimer Menpes We are about to launch Menpes Etchings, an exhibition of etchings. To join us on the 20th of August for the private view, scroll down. Mortimer Menpes (1855-1938) was a painter and printmaker who found fame in his lifetime for his depictions of South Asia, China and Japan. Born […]

Chyrpy, 20th Century, Turkmenistan

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A chyrpy is a robe or mantel worn over the head and shoulders of Tekke Turkmen women. Once worn widely across Turkmenistan, the chyrpy is now primarily worn for ceremonial purposes. The colour of the chyrpy reflects the status of the wearer.  For example, young women wear dark blue or black chrypys, married women wear […]

Chair: early 20th Century

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Swat is a mountainous district of northern Pakistan. Traditionally, woodworkers were held in great esteem in Swat, and intricately carved motifs adorned a wide range of wooden objects; from stately mosque columns to everyday tools and utensils. The carved backrest of this low chair bears a number of motifs typically found in the Swat Valley. The small […]

Lion vahana, mount of Goddess Durga

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Polychrome wooden sculpture, 20th century, Tamil Nadu, India  We have just given this lion pride of place in the South Asia Collection. He has been relocated from the rear of the gallery to the very first display case by the entrance. Situated just below a newly installed welcome sign, our friendly lion waits to greet […]

Moh nei: Naga body cloth

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Nagaland has a strong warrior tradition and headhunting was a significant part of its culture for many years. Strict rules surrounded the practice of headhunting. For example, heads would only be removed from the body after death. By taking the heads of their enemies Naga warriors could provide evidence of their victory, but they also believed the […]

Sahaj – Vernacular Furniture of Gujarat

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A brand new book from the collaborative Vernacular Furniture of N-W India project, Sahaj: Vernacular Furniture of Gujarat, the first book of its kind. Co-authored by our Collection Curator, Ben Cartwright, alongside Mitraja Bais, Jay Thakkar and Samrudha Dixit. The Gujarati term Sahaj can mean either ‘inherent’ or […]