Bhubaneswar’s Museum of Tribal Arts and Artifacts is efficiently maintained and managed, that too without any entry ticket, that you will want to applaud the management behind it.
Located inside the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Research and Training Institute (SCSTRTI) campus in the city’s Nayapalli area, this tribal museum is a rich and intricately documented repository of the vibrant tribal heritage of Odisha.
The single storey museum building has five huge air-conditioned halls that exhibit paintings, clothes, jewelry, hunting and fishing equipment, weapons of offence and defense, household objects, agriculture implements, and dance and musical instruments of 62 identified tribes of Odisha. Every single exhibit on display has relevant information about it displayed on information tablets. Besides this, there are audio-visual units where visitors can watch documentaries on various tribes. Each of the five halls also has representatives from the different tribes working on their native art and craft work samples of which are available for purchase. All five halls are manned by museum representatives who are well versed with information on artifacts on display and help with interaction with the tribal's at work.
In the spacious open-air courtyard inside the museum building, several shrine replicas of different tribes have also been installed. These replica shrines give the visitors an idea about the esoteric modes of tribal worship, symbolized by elements of nature – stones, bamboo, and carved wood.
Photography inside the halls as well as museum building is prohibited and as the visitors enter the museum reception area, they are asked to deposit their cameras (if they are carrying one), in a clean locker kept on one side.
While photography inside the halls is prohibited, click-happy visitors will surely have an exciting time capturing the art on display around the museum complex. Right behind the museum building, in a vast open area in the museum complex, are five large life-size replicas of huts of different tribes. First constructed in 1986, these tribal huts represent the Santhal, Juang, Gadaba, Saora and Kandha tribes. All 5 huts are built along with their tribe’s shrine replicas.
The replicas huts are so intricately designed, decorated and maintained that they give the impression of being real homes. Interestingly, these huts are also accessorized with a rich collection of all things that an average tribal household owns, to give visitors a thorough insight into their lives. Visitors are allowed to go inside the huts though photography inside is again prohibited.
Every nook and corner of this museum is decked up with beautiful tribal artwork – from outer walls to tree trunks, every space has been used up as a canvas. If you are in Bhubaneswar any time, do take out time for this delightful collection of tribal heritage.
By Ragini Puri
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