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Postcard from Puri

19 November 2007 by Emma

low built, mud house with a straw roof, palm trees and a young boy looking at the camera

The home of Maashri

Today we travelled the 80km from Orissa’s state capital Bhubaneshwara to the coastal town of Puri, a major centre for Hindu pilgrimage and the home of one of the most distinctive Hindu Gods, Lord Jaganatha; a manifestation of Krishna.

Along the way we stopped at several rural villages, many known to me through the work of a friend Stephen Huyler, a cultural anthropologist who has worked in Orissa with Babu Mohapatra for over 30 years. It was a privilege to see the work of the potters who effortlessly create beautiful water pots and vessels for the Jaganatha temple in Puri. Having dabbled in potting myself I know just how difficult it is to create the pieces that they shape in a matter of seconds. Read more…

No Tigers at Similipal!

18 November 2007 by Emma

colour photo taken at night showing a porcupine sniffing at something white on the ground

A rice-eating porcupine

As you might have guessed we didn’t see any tigers in Similipal National Park. However it was a beautiful place to be for a couple of days. We stayed in what was once the Maharaja’s hunting lodge (believe me it was not as glamorous as it sounds), which looked out over a clearing and a salt-lick in the otherwise dense forest. At dusk, a herd of spotted deer appeared where they settled for the night and while we didn’t see a tiger the deer obviously did, as with night falling anxious barks from the deer on watch alerted the herd to danger. In the absolute pitch black the barks rang out across the clearing, which sent shivers down my spine, and had me heading for the safety of the villa! Read more…

First Week in India

13 November 2007 by Emma

colour photo of a man showing examples of his brightly coloured paintings on large scrolls.

Montu Chitrakar and his paintings

Namaste!
I have finally got round to writing up my first few days in India. Minhazz and I gave our keynote speech to the International Folk Art conference in Chandigarh last Thursday, which went well, despite a few technical hitches. We had a good response from the 50 curators and artists attending the conference, but what made the conference even more worthwhile was that several of the artists Minhazz and I are working with on the Collecting Contemporary India project for NML came to the conference to show their work. In the image you can see Montu Chitrakar, a well-known Bengali scroll painter singing the story relating to his communal violence (this is religious violence often between Hindu and Muslim extremistis) in India scroll. Read more…

A visit to India

30 October 2007 by Emma

As I’m going to India at the end of the week I thought this would be a good time to write my first blog. Technology permitting I’m hoping to send in a few blogs while I’m away. As a quick introduction my name is Emma Martin and I’m Head of Ethnology and Curator of Asia collections based at World Museum. My trip is part-holiday, but also part-work as I’ll be presenting a paper on a contemporary collecting project I’m working on with colleagues in India and I’ll also be collecting new objects for the Weston Discovery Centre at World Museum. Read more…

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