From 14 January to 8 April 2023, the Art Museum RIGA BOURSE in Riga (Doma laukums 6) presents an exhibition India – the Land of Tradition.
India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world which cultural heritage is built upon centuries of history. It is diverse, full of traditions, various religions and old crafts preserved from generation to generation.
The research of the Indian art collection of the Latvian National Museum of Art (LNMA) with a study of the history of its formation, a review of the terminology related to Indian art and a complete contextualization of the collection in cooperation with the Indian research institution Eka Archiving Services in New Delhi, was the groundwork for making this exhibition.
The interest in Indian culture, literature, philosophy, ethics and religious practices started in Latvia during the first third of the 20th century. Nevertheless, up until 1958, when the museum received a considerable number of Indian traditional artworks from the All India Handicraft Board via the State Museum of Oriental Art collection in Moscow, LNMA had only a few Indian objects. Now, with its recent years’ donations from the Baltic German diplomat Karl Köhler (1942–2022), the collection consists of more than 500 items making it the biggest in the Baltics.
Art and crafts are very present in every aspect of Indian life and culture may it be people’s households, religion ceremonies and rituals, clothing and accessories or items for leisure or modes of travel. Indian households can combine almost all that is displayed at the exhibition – textiles of various designs and techniques, kitchen utensils, and even living room accessories like tea sets, water pots and decorative items.
The Indian religious and ritual objects in the museum’s collection are mostly Hindu, consisting of images of deities for personal or household worship, amulets and ritual vessels.
Various clothing and accessories are also an integral part of Indian everyday life, celebrations, religious ceremonies, and performances. Due to the different geographical locations, cultural and religious diversity every region has unique norms of colour, fabric, material, garments, accessories, shoes, and bags.
The exhibition displays around 260 objects from the museum’s collection offering an insight into Indian cultural heritage. Each item is an intricate work of art with elaborate ornamentation, motifs and designs kept alive for generations.