Mysore Varsity's Folklore Museum: A journey into past

DH file photo of Folklore Museum.But not many museums focus on traditional folk cultures and related aspects of a land, especially when knowledge about exquisite and unique folk traditions of a region is on the verge of extinction with the passage of time due to the lack of proper exposure and awareness about it.

One such museum of folk cultures and traditions is located at the magnificent Jayalakshmi Vilas mansion, Mysore. With most of the exhibits made up of either wood or metal or other natural raw materials.

Legend: Late Maharaja Chamaraja Wadiyar of Mysore had three daughters and two sons. The two sons of the Maharaja, Krishanraja Wadiyar IV and Narasimharaja Wadiyar lived in the Main Palace; the King constructed three mansions for his three daughters.

These three mansions were built in three different corners of Mysore on top of small hillocks that gave an excellent view of the city. The three mansions were named after the three princesses.

Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion is about a century old and is one of the five royal mansions built for his oldest daughter. It was built in 1905. The mansion was acquired by the University of Mysore to establish a postgraduate centre in its campus at Manasagangotri.

The building was in a state of neglect for a very long time. The building was restored at a cost of ` 1.17 crore by the Governor of Karnataka in 2006 by switching on the new illumination system.

The renovated mansion has 125 rooms, 300 windows, 287 exquisitely carved doors and it was spread across 6 acres.

Folklore Museum

 The Folklore museum is one of the three museums at the Jayalakshmi Vilas mansion. Since its foundation the University of Mysore has contributed to study of folklore, and the museum has been developed to its present level by scholars such as P R Thippeswamy, Javeregowda and Jeesham Paramashivaiah.

P R Thippeswamy collected material from all over Karnataka to increase the museum's collection. It not only showcases items but also elements of music, dance and drama.

Exhibits

The museum has a spectacular collection of more than 6,500 unique folklore exhibits. The museum exhibits have been organised in systematic order according to the folk art forms. The gallery is divided into wings for folklore, large dolls, folk life, literature and art.

 The new gallery comprises a collection of personal articles of Kannada writers who enriched the cultural heritage of the State, and it has been aptly named ‘Writers' Gallery’.
From A N Krishna Rao or ‘Anakru,’ who is reckoned to be a genius and had Kannadigas spellbound with his oratory and writings, to Alur Venkata Rao, D Javare Gowda to P G Halakatti, in all there are 23 Kannada litterateurs whose personal articles have been collected and assembled. It is a first of its kind in the state.   
                                                 
Litterateurs who find a place in the Writers’ Gallery are Tarasu, Chaduranga, D.V. Gundappa and Gorur Ramaswamy Iyengar. The museum also showcases collections of B L Rice, the first Director of the Department of Archaeology and Museums.

A few exhibits

* Costumes of Yakshagana.
* A rare Hanuman crown from Kugala Balli village in North Karnataka.
* Kathakali costumes from Kerala.
* Customs of Kamsale, Yelavara, Kinnara Jogi, Chudike, Goravaru.
* Armory and weapons used in wars.

- Ponnappa P C (Fourth semester student of Mass Communication and Journalism, University of Mysore.)

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