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Jewels on the Crescent (Masterpieces of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya- Formerly Prince of Wales Museum of Western India)

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Item Code: HAG971
Author: Kalpana Desai
Publisher: Mapin Publishing Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2002
ISBN: 9781890206444
Pages: 368 (With Color Illustrations)
Other Details 11.50 X 9.50 inch
Weight 2.10 kg
Book Description

About The Book

Masterpieces of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya formerly Prince of Wales Museum of Western India.

SITUATED on the famous Crescent Site near the Gateway of India in Mumbai, is the landmark heritage building that houses the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya. It is one of the most exquisite examples of the Indo-Saracenic architectural style for which the architect, George Wittet is well known.

Designed in A.D. 1909, it filled the need for a quality museum in Western India, particularly to house artifacts excavated by Henry Cousens, a famous archaeologist and Superintendent of the Archaeological Survey at the time. The museum opened with the donation of antiquities from the Sir Ratan Tata and Sir Dorab J. Tata Collection. Today the collection includes important sculptures of elaborate Buddhist images, one of the most important collections of miniature paintings in the country and decorative arts such as textiles, jade. wood and ivory, among other mediums, which provide a glimpse of the inherent skills of the Indian craftsmen of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Nepal and Tibet collection showcases essential features of Tantric Buddhism, including the 16th century image of Songtsen Gampo who is known to have established Buddhism in Tibet.


It has been my privilege to have been associated with our Museum for several decades- first as a Trustee since 1956 and later as Chairman of the Board since March 1995 and to hve seen the Museum grow into one of the finest and most important ones in India.

The Tata Organization, whose nominee I have been, has been closely associated with the Museum in a great many ways. It is good for all concerned to remember the Museum started with the donation of the collections of the two sons of the great visionary Jamsetjee Tata, his younger son Sir Ratan Tata and his elder son Sir Dorab Tata They presented the pioneering collections with which the Museum started. They also from time to time made generous grants for the extensive reconstruction and renovations required for parts of the building, including its beautiful and imposing Dome.


A number of books are available on the history of Indian sculpture and painting in the context of the royal patronage by different dynasties. In this short introduction I will confine myself to a brief overview of some of the thought processes and the general cultural milieu which inspired the creation of such magnificent sculptures and paintings in India.

Most of the households- the Hindus, the Buddhists and the Jains-have a special place for the worship of their chosen god or the ishtadevata. The image of the ishtadevata is as much a part of the family as any other member. The deity represented by that image is the ishta, the desired one. The ishtadevata ultimately leads the devotee to moksha, the last and final of the four main objectives of Indian life, namely dharma, artha, kama and moksha. For the devotee, ishtadevata is not just a lifeless image; it is consecrated and is infused with prana, the breath of life.

"After seeing the ishtadevata in one's heart one should establish her in the image, picture, vessel or yantra and then worship her," says Shaktananda Tarangini referring to the worship of the goddess.

The image is only an outward manifestation of the deity conceived within one's own mind. The form of the image of the deity would therefore, reflect what the devotee aspires to perceive in it. The basic iconographic features of the gods are invariably guided by the aspirations of the patrons and the devotees.

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