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.
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.
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. There were three wall paintings representing three periods in the history of Kanchipuram, from the ancient (300 BC) till the 20th century.
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!
Now 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.
In 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: