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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

33 -- A Trip to the Museum

NOTE: This blog is a continuing dialog between the two faces of rilla. The identity crisis is explained (if such a thing is possible) in the first edition. Click here to read: 1 -- Introduction

Rilla: BET you’ll never guess what those are.








rilla: They’re ancient hair-dryers…
Rilla: Wha…? How did you know?
rilla: Umm… it says so in the picture…



Rilla: Oh. It does. Aren’t they cool? I guess they combed through their hair with those tongs, to dry it … maybe they even heated them first.
rilla: Where did you get the picture?
Rilla: The Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum in Pune.





rilla: You went to a museum?
Rilla: A one-man collection of Indian folk-arts and crafts collected over sixty years! There are more than twenty-thousand artifacts, including the largest collection of lamps in India!
rilla: Raja Kelkar… so, he was a king?
Rilla: No, no. He named his collection for his son, Raja, who died very young.
rilla: Oh. Sad. Hey, this is cool.
Rilla: Bet you’ll never guess what that is!



rilla: It’s a… vegetable cutter!
Rilla: Urghh…
rilla: Same as these.


You were a little too careful including explanation cards in the photos to play guessing games, dimbulb… ha ha ha! I know what this is too!


Rilla: Yes. It's a vajri, a foot scrubber. What you giggling for?
rilla: Nothing... just with all those bells, the whole house would know when you're doing a bit of foot cleansing... hey hey...
Rilla:Ok, enough of that. I know you know what this is…



rilla: Yup! It's a betel nut cutter for paan.
Rilla: He was very fond of them. He has a huge array in his collection. Tells you what an important household item that was. Some of them are so beautiful…
rilla: Mm.. I love paan, the sweet kind that is, with the betel nut all chopped up to tiny chewable bits... the bright green leaf, the cool refreshing...
Rilla: ...yes... the bright red color it turns your mouth, the sudden urge to seek out a spitoon or use the closest street corner...
rilla: Oh, no... I've never eaten the paan with lime in it, the one that makes you spit like a chewin' tobacco veteran... but these betel nut cutters are lovely...






rilla: … hmm... and these others are downright…ahem.







Rilla: Well, paan chewing was considered sexy because of how it stains your lips red... it's said that Radha...
rilla: Moving on... moving on... Ooh! Cool-shaped water pots.



Rilla: Yes, but get a load of this... the collector loved weapons too.



rilla: Beautiful, but deadly!
Rilla: Deadly's right. Here, take a closer look.



rilla: Hang on a second. Are those what I think they are?
Rilla: Sure are, baby!



rilla: TIGER CLAWS! Like in Shivaji's story, the deep and treacherous tale of how he killed Afzal Khan of Bijapur. Lucky for him he had the claws and armor hidden under his clothes when he went for 'peaceful negotiations' with the dagger wielding Khan.
Rilla: Bet his armor wasn't made of fish scales like this one here.



rilla: Fish scales! Never heard of that before.
Rilla: OK. How about something more pleasant. Here, I took these pictures of miniature toys for your friend Laini, to give her ideas for her toy house.





rilla: CUTE! You even have the dolls to go with it!



Rilla: Ahem. Those aren't dolls! At least, not ones you play with. That's a miniature of Lord Krishna washing the feet of his older brother, Balarama.

rilla: Cool detail. I LOVE the hairdos! But, wait a minute, WHAT is that!
Rilla: Oh. The collector was totally in love with musical instruments. There were all kinds, including a sitar with its sound box made from an ostrich egg! And of course, this swan-shaped one here...



... and this fishy thing...



...here's another wierd one...



... and my favorite... this dragon-looking harp.



OK, OK, I BET you'll never guess what this is...



rilla: Mm... let's see now... it's all pointy, and loads of detail, and very elegant, and... did I say loads of detail, oh and really quite beautiful and...
Rilla: STOP STALLING AND GET ON WITH THE GUESSING.
rilla: All right. I guess you got me there. I have no idea!
Rilla: Finally! Ha ha! It's a LOCK! Can't you see the huge key sticking out there at the right.
rilla: A Lock!
Rilla: And, how about these things...?



rilla: Can't begin to imagine.
Rilla: Got you, got you! They're spoon holders.
rilla: Spoon holders?
Rilla: Yes. They're called Appakodus. They were hung from the ceiling or the wall and cooking ladels were stuck into the holes to keep them out of reach of children.
rilla: Huh!
Rilla: And now... for the lamps! Get a load of these...





..and finally, the coolest one of all...





rilla: That's a lamp! Wow! Well I can see you sure bent over backwards to put these pictures together... snicker... snicker...snurf...




The Official Museum Website
Info on the Practice of chewing Paan
Go the museum site above and click on Tambool to get more interesting stories about Paan
Shivaji's Battle with Bijapur
More about Krishna in Indian Mythology

For Lynnerd:
How You Use a Vajri or Foot Scrubber:



Lamps, not candle-holders.
Oil is filled into the well of the lamp and cotton wicks are dipped into the well. The wicks stick out in each of the little protrusions from the well and are lit with a slow-burning flame.






10 comments:

LynNerd said...

Wow, rilla, that's one cool museum you went to. And to think it was all one collector's. Amazing. That one cooling pot looks like Aladdin's lamp. Did you rub it to see if there was a genie in it? And those x-rated nut crackers, who woulda thunk? The foot scrubber is a mind blower. Can't imagine how it works. And those instruments, wow, I bet you got some good story ideas from those. The lamps are neat, too. Aren't they candle holders, though? Very unique stuff. Thanks for sharing them. Oh, the hair dryers are really something, too. They look like curling irons. I like the toys,too. I bet all that stuff is worth a mint.

J said...

OOOOO What a rich culture. There is such beauty in India. Sometimes I forget that there is beauty here too. Just a different kind. I'm a bit more romantic and that makes me a sucker for items like these in the museum. thanks for sharing.

rilla said...

Hey Lynnerd,
that museum is so cool, my pictures don't even begin to do it justice. This collector was obsessed and thank goodness! There were many, many more x-rated nut crackers ;) I presume they belonged to courtesans.
I put up a pic to show how the foot scrubber was used. Also, the lamps are not candle-holders. You fill the wells with oil and a wick and you light them up, voila! I put up a pic for you of that too. But, you'll just have to come home and see my collection for the real McCoy!

rilla said...

Hey J,
thank goodness there is beauty everywhere! Now put on those traveling boots and get on out there. First stop, Nubia ;)

LynNerd said...

Hey, thanks, rilla, for the pic of how the foot scrubber works. Pretty nifty. Wonder how well it works! So the lamps burn oil. Very cool. They're so unique. The one lamp looks like a scale. And that puppet! All the detail. He must have been the villain. All that stuff would be ideal for a creative writing class, huh? The teacher could put one of those items on each student's desk and say, "Write a wild story about this." Are you going to post more museum pics?

rilla said...

Hey Lynnerd,
Sure I'll put up more museum pics in My Pic of the Day. I have so many more. It was a pity, though. They didn't allow flashes and I didn't have a tripod or loads of time and so a lot of pictures are blurry and need some major photoshopping to figure out what is going on with them.
Oh, and some of the footscrubbers looked pretty mean. Bet they did a bang-up job, bells, whistles and all ;0
That 'write a wild story about this' is a great idea. Were you there when we did that at the Temecula writing retreat? We should do it once in a while just for practice. I'm sure you'd have a carful of wacky things to offer!

Laini Taylor said...

Oh my gosh, Rilla, all these pictures are so amazing, and the ones below of the fort! I love the story about the monitor lizards scaling the walls to the fort for the invaders. Some strong lizards! This just makes me want to go to India EVEN MORE. Sigh. Some day! -- And those weird fruits. I want to try weird fruits! I even like to say, "weird fruits."

Welcome home! Hope your mom is settling in well. Cheers!

rilla said...

Thanks Laini! It's good to be home. I ate them weird fruits everyday I was home, because I don't know anywhere else you get them and it was one of the few times I was home in Seethaphul season. Makes me wonder... what are goblin fruit like??
Did you get a glimpse of the miniature kitchen set I photographed? I thought of you and your dollhouse when I saw it. There was a whole room of things that would be PERFECT for a doll house. Wish you could have been there. Next time...

Aruna said...

Pune city has given land for shifting the museum to a more spacious building. Recently came in papers.Hope they house the museum in a 'wada'-like building. Next time you are in Pune, we'll take you to some private preserved wadas. not as grand as the havelies of Hyderabad, but have lot of history and atmosphere and beauty.

rilla said...

Hey Aruna,
I saw the news about the new building on the museum website. I do hope it's not just a flashy modern building. The house where it's at now is so beautiful. And I loved seeing Vishraam Baag Wada. You're right. Got to do it more justice next time as well as the promised visit to Shanivaar Wada. So much to do... so little time... oh for next time! Thanks for that fabulous visit.