A Divine Visit: An exhibition of a kind

January 14, 2018 07:52 AM Sonam Lama

KATHMANDU, Jan 14: Patan Museum itself being an epitome of culture and ancient artifacts, has witnessed many cultural exhibitions in the past days. Although the subjective and special significances of every exhibition lies on raising awareness as well as public interest on the study of cultural heritages, ‘A Divine Visit: Encounters with the Past’, an exhibition that is being held from January 12-14 at Patan Museum holds a unique significance. 

Curated by a Danish PhD student Urlik Hoj Johnsen and a group of museology students as well as members of the faculty at Lumbini Buddhist University, the exhibition is a collaborative creation of Aarhus University and Moesgaard Museum, Denmark and Lumbini Buddhist University, Nepal.

The exhibition reflects upon the changes and continuities that have taken place in Nepal since the 1950s to this day. The flax printed pictures of ancient objects that dates back from 17-20th Century have been put to display. Altogether 19 flax printed pictures of ancient Hindu and Buddhist deities including Manjushree, Green Tara, Bhairav, Krishna and Vishnu along with 32 pictures of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur have been exhibited. 

Since Nepal has been highly revered for its natural, social, cultural and religious significances since the reigns of ancient Kings, Kathmandu specifically being the capital has been a hub for visitors who’d travel from several corners of the world. In June 1957, archaeologist Werner Jacobsen visited Kathmandu. He set up the ‘Danish Cultural Research Institute’ in Kalimati where he carried out researches on the archaeology of Nepal. It was during his stay in Nepal that he managed to collect ample ancient statues of Buddhist deities along with a range of classic pictures dating back to 1950s. These statues have been preserved in the Danish museum, and the photographs of the statues have been put on display at the exhibition.

“The pictures are the juxtaposition of ancient and modern Kathmandu, where we can see and compare the structural changes that have taken place to this day, however, the underlying values have remained and continued to this day,” said Urlik Hoj Johnsen, Danish PhD scholar at Aarhus University. “This exhibition is an outcome of collaborative work that primarily not only aims at raising awareness about Nepali cultural heritages and values but also identifying the ancient statues that originally belonged to the temples of Nepal.”

“I got to know about this event through Facebook. I found it interesting as I could learn more about our place and culture. I was here to see antique picture since we don't get to witness such photographs generally in other exhibitions,” said a 22-year-old visitor Riken Maharjan, who is a student of IT at British College.

“The exhibition was informative as we could learn about the country’s traditional aspects and the reflection of ancient Nepal through these pieces and pictures. We also got to know about the ancient tools that were being used in those times. Few of those tools are already extinct, so it was interesting to know and see things from the past,” said a 29-year-old visitor and MBA graduate Manish Maharjan.

“Everything that has been put on display is informative and interesting. We saw a few artifacts, pictures and flex forms. It's quite informative to see the antiques dating back to 17-20th Century,” said a 35-year old-Indian visitor and fashion designer Auleel Roy.

The idea for the exhibition emerged from an on-going research project ‘Precious Relics: Materiality and Value in the Practice of Ethnographic Collection’ at Aarhus University. “It is the second day of our exhibition, and we have come across a diverse number of visitors which is quite progressive,” said Suman Shrestha, student of Museology and Buddhist Collection at Lumbini Buddhist University, Rupandehi.

The exhibition will be held on January 15-17 at Nag Bahal, Patan, January 18-20 at Itum Bahal, Kathmandu, January 21-23 at The Heritage Gallery, Bhaktapur and January 24-26 at Jyapu Samaj, Patan.

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