From Temple to Museum: Colonial Collections and Uma Mahesvara Icons in the Middle Ganga Valley

Location: OCHS Library
Speaker: Dr. Salila Kulshreshtha
Date: November 18, 2018
Time: 2:00pm to 3:00pm

Mahesvara from sites across South Bihar in their movement and displacement from their original abodes in temples to museums, private collections and art markets. The scope of the book covers a large time frame from the early medieval to the 20th century and innovatively tries to bridge the historiographical divide between the ancient and the modern and also between socio-religious practices and their institutional memory and preservation. One of the most interesting aspects of discussion is how through official surveys and institutionalisation of museum and archival practices the colonial government tried to create a monotheistic identity to sacred spaces in the Indian Subcontinent.

Through the medium of sacred sculptures the talk will touch upon significant issues in Indian archaeology such as the prolonged usage of the same ritual space by various communities of people such as Buddhists, Jains, Hindus and Muslims. Another significant theme which will be discussed is how a shift in the architectural and ritual placement of sacred images can bring about a change in their identity and purpose. The talk will also focus on the creation of regional identities and the politics of heritage making through the use of visual cultures and museum spaces.

Dr. Salila Kulshreshtha secured her PhD in History from Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her doctoral research focuses on tracing how the spatial relocation of sacred sculptures brings about a change in their identity and ritual purpose. She has worked on issues of urban heritage and heritage education with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) [2004] and with the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum, Mumbai [2011-2012]. She has taught Art history, History and Humanities in Mumbai at Rizvi College of Architecture and Indian Education Society’s College of Architecture [2012-2013] and in the USA at the Old Dominion University and Virginia Wesleyan College [2005-2007]. She is currently based in Dubai. Her research interests include religious iconography, colonial archaeology, museum collections and Indian Ocean trade networks. She has also contributed to designing an online course of OCHS on Indian Art.