The Telegraph
Tuesday , November 20 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Museum to get artefacts gallery

Nov. 19: The Assam State Museum is all set to open a new artefacts gallery displaying statues and masks of historical importance.

The installation process is under way and is expected to be complete within this month, following which the gallery will be thrown open to visitors.

Director of museums, Assam, Y.S. Wunglengton, told The Telegraph that the construction of the gallery was over and the installation and display process was under way. “The process will also be completed within this month. After it, we will open the gallery to visitors,” he said.

The exhibits include at least 27 masks used in bhaonas (religious plays started by Vaishnavite saint Srimanta Sankardev) made by artisans of Chamaguri Xatra in Jorhat. Masks, an essential part of bhaonas, have been brought to the gallery in a bid to showcase the rich crafts tradition carried on by some xatras in the state. Most of the masks are of demons and evil spirits.

Besides, there is a huge mask of King Bana, wooden statues of Hanuman, Vishnu, Buddha, Parashurama and Narasimha, among others. A portion of a pillar from the Barpeta Xatra, one of the prominent Vaishnavite monasteries in the state, is also a part of the articles ready for display in 10 different chambers.

“There are around 100 sculptures in the gallery,” said Wunglengton. He said the museum officials had collected some of the sculptures several years ago but could not display these in the absence of a dedicated gallery.

Kamarupa Anusandhan Samiti had established the museum in 1940 and it was taken over by the state government in 1953. Located along the southern bank of the Dighalipukhuri tank here, it is currently one of the prominent museums in the country and has exhibits that include guns, rifles and bombs used during World War II as some of the major attractions along with coins and dresses used by different dynasties that ruled the state.

Wunglengton said they had organised some awareness meetings among school students about the heritage of the state. “Besides, we have organised two seminars this year on different topics.”