Gleefully adding to the numbers

Unique Hobbies

Gleefully adding to the numbers

Enter Prema Kuruvilla’s posh apartment near Bannerghatta Road and what instantly strikes you are her collection of toy turtles of all shapes, sizes, colours and textures. The calm, docile creature, caught Prema’s fascination 25 years ago, when she picked up a turtle at one of the exhibitions in the City. From then on, she has kept an eye open for turtles wherever she went.

Prema now has not less than 80 turtles, all very aesthetically placed at different points in the house. Helping her enlarge her collection is her husband Lal, who also buys turtles whenever he goes globetrotting.

 Prema recently bought an open shelf just to keep the turtles and she often gets asked by a lot of people why she never hosts an exhibition but Prema chooses to remain low key. “I am pretty happy with my collection. My friends, relatives and my grandchildren generously contribute to it. Today, I have turtles from across the world,” she tells Metrolife, even as she carefully picks each turtle and arranges them for a picture.

There are various myths surrounding the turtle and people across the world have given different interpretations to the creature. Prema has read up rather extensively on the turtle but she says that she doesn’t believe in any of the superstitions attached to it.

Sharing her knowledge about the creature, Prema states, “The earliest known tortoise/turtles dates back to over 215 million years and it is the oldest reptile group. No wonder that in Hinduism after Matsya (fish), Kurma (tortoise) is the two yugas, symbolising purity and morality. Akupara is a tortoise that carried the earth on its back upholding the earth and the sea, perhaps the equivalent of Atlas.” It’s not just in India, Prema found out that people across the world hold a similar fascination for the creature.

“For instance, Greeks and Romans consider them as symbols of fertility, Africans credit them with great intelligence, Chinese consider them to be sacred and symbols of power, tenacity and longevity and in Feng Shui, the tortoise is a water element. A tortoise at the back door is said to bring good fortune and many blessings,” shares Prema.

  Those who walk into Prema’s home never miss to admire the display of turtles but are careful not to touch them. “They’re delicate and I have never had to tell people to be careful. I notice that people who come home, simply admire the pieces from a distance, even children are careful,” she adds. She takes a lot of trouble to keep them dust-free. “I use a paint brush to dust them and I make sure I do it thrice a week,” she smiles. 

The turtles that have travelled to Prema’s home include those from Australia, China, Egypt, Greece, Hawaii, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tasmania, Turkey, USA and parts of India. “I was gifted a metal turtle with little marble spots on it from California; a small turtle, wearing cute little spectacles from New Zealand; and I also have a multi-coloured turtle from Mexico,” shares Prema.
Prema has turtles made of bone, ceramic, crystal, papermache, metal, stone, jade, marble, onyx and wood. “I bought a few ceramic ones myself on my trip to the United States of America, where I went for some ceramic classes and the turtle was one of the first things that I made,” beams Prema.  

This avid collector doesn’t intend to stop adding to her collection. “I wish to collect many more and have them around in my house but not live ones,” she sums up.

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