Indian Folk & Tribal Bronzes

Johannes B. Tuemmers ami0209 at rs1.rrz.Uni-Koeln.DE
Tue Mar 14 14:02:00 UTC 1995

Dear members of the list,

I would like to inform you about a research project on Indian Folk and
Tribal Bronzes which started in 1989 by the german indologist 
Cornelia Mallebrein and which I hope will find your interest.
   The work centered on the study of household shrines in Maharashtra,
Madhya Pradesh (including Bastar) and Orissa with special emphasis on the
Kondh tribe. The initial research of three years including extensive field
work resulted in 1993/94 in an exhibition 'The Other Gods - Folk- and Tribal
Bronzes from India' at the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum for Ethnology in
Cologne, Germany, which lasted for more than ten months. It coincided with
the publication of a catalogue summarizing the results of the project and
explaining the exhibits. It also contains contributions by 14 reputed
Indologists . Professor G.D. Sontheimer of the South Asia Institute of Heidelberg
University was the academic adviser to the project until his premature death
in 1992.
   The exhibition has now been taken to the State Museum of Ethnology at the
Japanese Palais in  Dresden, the cultural centre of East Germany (until 31.
5. 1995). From there it will travel to the National Museum of Oriental Art
in Rome, Italy (Winter 1995/96) and the Berlin House of World Cultures
(Spring 1996).
   This exhibition of Indian folk and tribal bronzes is unique among world
museums. It presents a hithero undiscovered art form. Until now, folk and
tribal culture has been considered unrepresentative of Indian Culture, and
woefully neglected. Both the exhibition and its accompanying catalogue
document for the first time authentic, unknown artfacts and rituals of
Indian folk and tribal religions. 
   One important feature is  a complete pantheon of family deities of 
the Kokna and Varli tribes of West Maharashtra. These deities became 
'physically present' in the exhibition as a result of the consecration 
of their bronzes in India that lasted several days. 
   A rich collection of exquisite bronzes from Bastar (Madhya Pradesh) and 
nearly 300 bronzes from the Kondh tribe (Orissa) can be seen in the exhibition 
and (many of them) in the catalogue. Eight scenic installations are set up 
and a videodocumentation (1 hour) shows ceremonies, the consecration rites 
of the Kokna and Varli and the festival of the Clan-deities of the 
Gond-tribe in Bastar, which have never been seen before in the west.
   Only by gaining the personal trust and confidence of the many tribal
groups was it possible to accieve the cooperation required for extensive
field research. This project was recognized by UNESCO as a contribution to
the World Decade for Cultural Development for its efforts to preserve the
Indian cultural heritage. Prof. Sontheimer wrote in June 1992: " .. it is
therefore important to investigate, before they are lost, the origin of the
bronzes, the methods of their production, and their religious function and
   Fourteen renowned scholars contributed to the catalogue written by
Cornelia Mallebrein that was conceived as a manual for analyzing and
illustrating the great variety of idols in the folk and tribal culture of
central India (see list of contents below). 

Catalogue: Die Anderen Goetter - Volks- und Stammebronzen aus Indien
(The Other Gods - Folk- and Tribal Bronzes from India)
559 pages, 576 Photographs (85 color), numerous drawings, maps
Hardcover price: DM 78.- (ISBN 3-923158-25-4, Edition Braus). 
Mail order: Verwaltung der Museen, St. Apern-str. 17-21, 50678 Koeln,

Contributers to this catalogue (in german) were:

Herrmann Kulke: Regionen und Regionalkulturen in der indischen Geschichte;
Georg Pfeffer: 'Rasse' und 'Kaste' als soziale Ordnungsideen;
Rainer Hoerig: AdivAsI: Das andere Indien;
M.K. Dhavalikar: Vergangenheit in der Gegenwart: Lebendige Vorgeschichte in
Paul Yule: �berlegungen zu den fruehen Metallarbeiten in Indien;
Gudrun Buehnemann: Gott Shiva und seine Familie;
Elizabeth Chalie-Visuvalingam: Shiva und seine Manifestationen als Bhairava;
Monika Horstmann: 1) Die gestalthaften Manifestationen (avatAra) von Gott
        ; 2) Hochkulturliche Rezeption lokaler Gottheiten
                  nach dem avatAra-Konzept: Ausgewaehlte Typen;
E. Masilamani-Meyer and C. Vogelsanger: PArvatI, KAlI, MArI - Verschiedene
                                        Formen der DevI;
Gerd Kreisel: ShrI, die altindische Gluecksgoettin;
Madhukar Shripad Mate: Zur Verehrung von Tieren in Indien;
Heidrun Brueckner: Zu Kult und Ikonographie von Tulu-Volksgottheiten an der
                   Westkueste Suedindiens;
Lydia Icke-Schwalbe: Der gesellschaftliche Status der Metallhandwerker in
Josef Riederer: Die Metallanalyse der Volksbronzen

(143 pp)

The contribution of Mrs. Mallebrein is the following (in german, shortened):

Housshrines in central-India; 
Housshrines in Maharashtra; 
familygodesses (kulsvAminI) in Maharashtra, introduction; 
the godess BhavAnI of Tuljapur; 
the familygodess MahAlak.smI of Kolhapur; 
the godesses Re.nukA and YellammA; 
the godess Sapta'sri'ngI of Vani; 
the godess Yoge'svarI of Ambajogai; 
the MAtAvAlA, worshipper of the godess bIjAsenmAtA; 
Kha.n.doba, the king on earth; 
JotibA, the KedArnAth of Vadi Ratnagiri; 
masks of deities; 
Deities and ancestors on plaquettes (.tAk); 
Housshrines of tribal groups in the western Ghat-mountains of Maharashtra 
            - the example of the Kokna and Varli;
Housshrines in the Satpura-mountains - .ThAkurdeo; 
KAthImAtA, the godess with one leg and without head; 
Bronzes from Bastar and near regions; 
Bronzes of the Kondh and other tribes from Orissa.

(345 pp.) 

Index of 269 names of folk and tribal deities. 

Please feel free to e-mail me for any further information you may need.

With kind regards,

Yours sincerely

Johannes Tuemmers

-Johannes B. Tuemmers-
Institute of Indology and Tamil Studies, Pohligstr.1, 50969 Koeln, Germany
Tel. Ger-(0)221-4705344 
Fax: 0221/4705151 
email: ami0209 at


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