Tribal Museum -
The newest addition to the rich array of museums in Bhopal, the Tribal Museum was many years in the making and was inaugurated in 2013.In sharp contrast to the displays at the State Museum next door,the tribal museum aims at, and is successful in, immersing the visitor in the traditions of the different tribal communities of Madhya Pradesh. Instead of just observing objects displayed in an enclosure or behind a glass case, visitors can walk through doorways and into rooms,past wedding celebrations, and survey pots and pans and musical Instruments up close. The first thing to greet you after reception, in the first gallery, is a giant banyan tree,with branches and roots extending throughout the gallery, providing shelter, as it were, to the many different kinds of huts and homes.
Re-creation of the settlements of the Gonds,Bhil,Bhumia,Korku and several other tribes and several other tribes reveals both differences and similarities in construction, structure and adornment of homes. The life-size houses are a treat to peek into and walk around in, and it might well be and in imitable experience.
The Tribal Aesthetic Gallery is mesmerizing, where the museum authorities have taken every day objects, local art and sculptural forms and blended them excellently with the vast space that this gallery affords. The eye catching display of musical instruments installed in a tree, hundreds of pots stuck to the wall, the many, many figures intricately painted - not only are these exhibits beautifully arranged, but since they have been created by tribal artists, there seems to be a genuine attempt to explain different ways of living and customs without exorcising them. Also illustrated are ways life ranging from marriage traditions to origin myths. It will be hard to miss the wonderful marriage pavilion,a two storey structure in the middle of the gallery that affords a great view of all the other displays. Among these is the intricate and fantastic Kangan, or the ceremonial, which is the gigantic re-creation of the traditional bangle given to a new bride in the Bhareva,Ghadawa and Jhara communities of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The bangles is adorned with standing crops, trees and other symbols connected with fertility. It is said that the new bride must prepare the seeds for sowing for the next season while wearing this bangle to aid the harvest.
Further ahead, in the Tribal Spiritual world Gallery there are depictions of funerary as well as religious structures as defined and constructed by the different tribal communities.
The fantastic Gallery dedicated to the guest state Chattisgarh is a must see in this museum. It is heartening to see that despite being a state-sponsored museum, the authorities have nevertheless recognized the close links that communities across artificially created state lines continue to have. These shadow lines not with standing the traditions of the adivasi communities of the entire region have been explained as comprehensively as possible.
As you step outside the main galleries and walk around the museum, do take a closer look at the wonderful mural paintings that adorn the interior walls of the building as they would the houses of Rajwar women - pioneers of this art form. There is also an exhibition hall where playful images have been painted on the walls using terracotta, hollows of dried gourd,hemp and papier mache to show the leisurely activities and games in communities such as Baiga, Gond, Saharia and Kol.
In the centre of the complex, next to the staircase, is a beautiful garden garden with a pond where you can find ducks waddling about. It is a pleasant area to relax.
Before heading out, make sure to visit the small gift shop, located opposite the reception, where you can pick up miniature versions of the sculptures in the gallery at reasonable prices.
The galleries have been equipped with signboards for nearly every exhibit, clearly explaining the community the art work is related to,as well as its history and context. The explanations are only in English, but a brochure in Hindi can be picked up at the reception.
Rs 10 for Indians
Rs 100 for Foreign nationals
Noon till 8 pm
Closed on Monday’s and Government holidays
Photography charges are Rs 50