A Museum in Kanchipuram – Shakuntala Jagannathan Museum of Folk Art


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Image: Destination8Infinity. This image is published under this creative commons license

Shakuntala Jagannathan Museum of Folk Art is located in a 400 year old heritage house called ‘Brahma Mandiram’ in Kanchipuram, near Chennai in Tamil Nadu. It is located close to Ekambareeswarar Temple. This house belonged to maternal ancestors of Sir CP. Thereafter, Shakuntala Jagannathan, his grand daughter converted this house into a museum.

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These are some of the traditional musical instruments kept on display. It seems, some instruments are not used any more. Musical instruments were often associated with specific social/religious ceremonies, in our culture. The main hall (first picture) retains its traditional feel with a large wooden swing and a punkah for natural ventilation/breeze.

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A lot of brass/bronze objects, statues and photos are kept for display, in the hall. It seems the hall was also the venue of daughter’s marriages and chamber concerts during the olden times.Β There were three wall paintings representing three periods in the history of Kanchipuram, from the ancient (300 BC) till the 20th century.

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The traditional houses of Tamil Nadu have an open courtyard in the center (Nadumitham). Here, there is a Tusli plant (which is often worshiped) and the Tusli leaves are consumed along with water, as Theertham. The Tulsi leaves have a lot of medicinal value. I was also able to see various types of lamps and various handicrafts in display. One painting kept right next to this courtyard was 200 years old!

Shakuntala-Jagannathan-Museum-Kanchipuram-4Now we come to the large kitchen with its innumerable number of vessels. As you can see, most of the vessels are large because the food was prepared at once for multiple families. Joint families of those days didn’t believe in the inefficient usage of resources, unlike today. I saw large water boilers (Kodhikalan), coffee roasters, coffee filters and many more utensils.

Shakuntala-Jagannathan-Museum-Kanchipuram-6In the first floor, there were many objects in wood and metal kept on display. They included some games (as shown above), jewelry, clothes and even a Thari (a man-operated machine that makes thread for clothing). Have a look at one of the rooms in the top with a cradle:

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15 Replies to “A Museum in Kanchipuram – Shakuntala Jagannathan Museum of Folk Art”

    1. It is not only neatly maintained, but the administrators even came with me to explain the importance of certain objects and paintings. Do visit the museum if you go there.

      Destination Infinity

  1. This is very interesting. I have never heard or read about this until now. Will definitely visit this place, D.I.

    My grand mother’s place looked like this and the brass vessels…same shaped vessels were used for daily use.

    The wall was full of framed pictures of national leaders. My mother’s cousin’s house is in T.Nagar. They have this type of high ceilinged hall and again framed pictures of national leaders. Old timers wanted to display their patriotism, may be! But it looked nice.

    1. There is one more heritage house we can visit, called ‘Kanchi Kudil’ and it is quite near to this museum. I will write about it shortly. I almost missed the pictures/photos on the wall. Maybe I was too busy looking at the other things! The camera has captured it, though! πŸ™‚

      Destination Infinity

    1. Yes I got lucky because photography is allowed here. In certain museums, they follow a silly rule of not allowing photography!

      Destination Infinity

    1. I have played this game, when I was young. It is called some ‘Kuzhi’ in Tamil, or maybe we might have used the Telugu name. I forgot both now. If anyone knows the name, please share in comments. Thanks for giving the Kannada name…

      Destination Infinity

  2. I have been to Kanchipuram a couple of times, but have not visited this museum. It is like going back in time to our own home. The game is pallanguzhi. We had one in our house and it was fun playing with all the members of the house! Today it is video games and virtual games.

    1. Yes, it is pallanguzhi. The museum is not very popular and I hope more people come to know about it. They are maintaining it quite well.

      Destination Infinity

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