A Celebration of Rural Rajasthan The truly unique Komal Da Ethnographic...read more
A Celebration of Rural Rajasthan The truly unique Komal Da Ethnographic Museum of Rajasthan lies on the outskirts of Jodhpur city, perching upon the edge of the Aravali mountain range as it descends to the plains of the great Thar Desert. Set against this stunningly beautiful natural landscape, the museum explores the traditional lifestyles of indigenous Rajasthani communities and the deep relationship between them and their natural environment. Unlike traditional museums that confine their collections to rarities, antiques, curiosities, and objects of great historical or artistic significance, the Komal Da Ethnographic Museum focuses on contemporary artifacts from rural societies. Presenting a broad range of artifacts, along with appropriate audio/video recordings, it illuminates the genius of human creativity in the art of survival, as well as the more refined aspects of human culture. Exploring such themes as biodiversity, land and water usage, agriculture, craft groups, religious beliefs, epics, legends, superstitions, fairs, festivals, markets, the performing arts, social interactions between occupational castes, and the transmission of indigenous knowledge down the generations, the museum presents a comprehensive view of rural Rajasthani life. Life in Rajasthan is shaped by differences in the composition of soil, water availability, and climatic conditions. Besides determining the variety of flora and fauna available to communities in a given area, these differing conditions naturally divide Rajasthan into three zones by promoting the agricultural cultivation of three different crops: bajra, jawar, and makka (pearl millet, sorghum, and corn, respectively). The museum structures exhibitions around the comparison of these three zones. Human cultural practices developed in tandem with the annual agricultural cycle of these three major crops. Exhibitions highlight the impact that subsistence living has on all aspects of creative human endeavors. As an example of the museum’s approach, the first exhibit displays brooms from each region. The exhibit surveys the botanical diversity of each zone through the grasses and plants available for the construction of brooms; this also provides insight into contemporary environmental issues (changes in land use patterns and water usage, declining biological diversity, etc.). The exhibit explores the rationale behind the size, shape, and material composition of brooms in relation to the surface the broom is used on (domestic flooring, open ground, cow-dung floors, cement floors, marble floors, etc. – brooms are even used in harvesting grain). It looks at the role of the broom in domestic hygiene. The exhibit examines the development of different manufacturing techniques used in creating brooms, and the distinct craft groups that make them. Reliance on the natural environment for materials to create brooms has resulted in a scarcity situation, elevating the importance of brooms. Further aspects of the role of the broom in society cover rituals involving the worship of brooms, witchcraft, legends & superstitions about brooms, and their artistic usage in paintings, folk tales, epics, and songs. The museum already boasts a collection of about 175 different types of brooms with documentation. Other exhibits follow the theme of staple food zones. The second exhibit displays tools of different crafts.The third exhibit incorporates traditional folk instruments, puppetry and pottery. All future ones, follow the same holistic, interdisciplinary approach to study and presentation that has been outlined above. The museum is built with traditional construction methods, blending in with the environment and creating a harmonious aesthetic appearance. The museum contains space for permanent and temporary exhibits, a full audio/video digital recording studio,a library, space for archives and an open-air auditorium for cultural performances. The grounds of the museum have been beautifully landscaped with desert medicinal plants. The peacefulness and tranquility of the environment quietly casts the spell of Rajasthan upon any visitor, enhancing the appreciation of the resourcefulness of the people who live within it.