Resources at Brown
The Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology holds an impressive collection of archeological, ethnographic, textual and photographic items. Of these, there are 332 objects from India, comprised mostly of religious items, some musical instruments, textiles, and household objects, such as pottery. The Museum also holds 91 items from Nepal, 43 items from Bhutan, 13 items from Sikkim and 5 items from Pakistan. Additionally, the Museum possesses an impressive collection of over 200 photographs of Nepal by Professor Phillip Lieberman.
The main campus of the Museum is located in Bristol, Rhode Island. While the Bristol facilities limit the number of objects which can be display at any one time, the collections are available to qualified researchers. The Museum has nearly completed entering the catalogue onto a computerized data base, allowing for easy search and reporting on the collection.
For information about specific objects in the collection, contact:
Ph. (401) 253-8388
For information about accessing the collection, contact:
Kevin P. Smith
Deputy Director/Chief Curator
Ph. (401) 253-8388
Collaboration with YRG-CARE in Chennai, India
In 1996, a Miriam Hospital house officer, Dr. Geetha Gopalakrishnan, brought to the attention of several of the Brown faculty the fact that there was a dynamic non-governmental organization in southern India called YR Gaitonde Center for AIDS Research and Education (YRG CARE) that was increasingly becoming a leader in community-based care and research for people living with HIV in southern India. Geetha wanted to spend an elective at YRG CARE. Dr. Flanigan, and Dr. Mayer, the Director of the Brown-Tufts Fogarty AIDS International Research and Training Program, discussed the organization with colleagues at Johns Hopkins who had been working extensively in India and they felt that this organization could provide an excellent training experience. Based on Geetha’s initial experience, a multi-lateral collaboration has developed that has resulted in frequent exchanges of faculty, collaborations, leading to several important collaborative projects and NIH grants, including YRG CARE’s involvement in the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) and AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG), as well as more than 30 collaborative publications…
Although antiretrovirals are now available at relatively low cost in India, the use of highly active antiretroviral therapy is not yet common. Until the infrastructure for delivering and monitoring HAART and training of physicians/providers in the initiation, monitoring and sequencing of HAART regimens is more established, the use of HAART may not grow to its fullest need. Until HAART is widely available, the presentation of HIV/AIDS in India is one of wasting, respiratory disease and diarrheal diseases: the same infectious illnesses that have comprised such an enormous disease burden in children in this region, even before the HIV epidemic. The CFAR is utilizing its long-term collaborations with investigators with extensive experience in intestinal function and diarrheal disease in India at the Christian Medical College (CMC) in Vellore, Tamilnadu to address these issues as they present in adults and children with HIV…
The Brown India Fund
Founded in 2005, the Brown India Fund was established through the gifts and pledges of alumni and parents. It aims to support student and faculty exchanges, research projects, symposia, and lectures in topics relating to India. In September of 2005, the Fund sponsored its inaugural event: a well-attended lecture by Indian Foreign Minister, K. Natwar Singh, entitled ‘The Argument for India’, organized by the Watson Institute for International Studies. The Fund is currently supporting several student internships being organized through the new program in Commerce, Organizations and Entrepreneurship.
For more information, contact Rajiv Vohra, Dean of Faculty
- Samuel Bourne’s India
- In the 1860's, the British photographer, Samuel Bourne (1834-1912), traveled extensively across the Indian sub-continent photographing landscapes, buildings, and historical places. During this period, he went into partnership with Charles Shepherd in Calcutta creating the company of Bourne and Shepherd. The majority of their photographs were purchased by European travelers. Today, many of these photographs survive in albums, one of which is in the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection. This contains photographs by Bourne and others as well as scenes from Europe and Africa by unidentified photographers.
- Felice Beato’s Lucknow
- The 26 albumen silver prints are mounted in an album. They were taken by Felice Beato, an Italian by birth, who visited India during the period of the Indian Mutiny or First War of Indian Independence; he may have been and was commissioned by the War Office in London to make documentary photographs showing the damage to the buildings in Lucknow following the two sieges. It is known that he was in Lucknow in March and April of 1858 within a few weeks of the capture of that city by British forces under Sir Colin Campbell. His equipment was a large box camera using 10" x 12" plates which needed a long exposure, and he made over 60 photographs of places in the city connected with the military events. Beato also visited Delhi, Cawnpore and other 'Mutiny' sites where he took photographs.
Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection
The Brown University Library’s Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection features two distinct sets of holdings related to South Asia: Samuel Bourne's photographs of India and photographs taken of Lucknow by Felice Beato after the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.
Resources at RISD
The Asian Collection of the RISD Museum includes a small but rich holding of one to two hundred South Asian pieces from periods ranging from the 12th century to the late 19th century. Largely from India, the objects come from both Northern and Southern regions of the country and represent the work of artists from Rajasthan to Bengal to Kerala.
A variety of mediums are represented in the collection which has a particularly strong core group of Mughal objects. One such notable piece is the right half of a double page illustration to the Baburnama, or the Memoirs of Babur (ca. 1590). Written in Chagatai Turki, the language of Babur’s native Turkestan, the memoir recounts his campaigns, battles, and celebrations of victories as he crossed from Central Asia to India. The RISD piece depicts ‘Workmen in a Garden’ in opaque watercolors and reflects Babur’s well-known love of gardening.
Another remarkable piece worthy of mention is a fine-grained green hardstone carved cup which served as an imperial wine cup of the Emperor Jahangir. It is engraved around the rim in nasta’liq script with six couplets one of which states that the cup was ordered by Jahangir in 1612-13. There exist only four other known examples of imperial cups under Jahangir, of which this is the second oldest.
Other themes represented well by the collection include Hinduism, early Buddhism, contact with the British Empire, and particularly drawings and paper. An impressive 15th century Shiva Nataraja bronze statue is currently on display along with the Art of the Himalayas in the 5th floor gallery of the museum.
Questions about the collection can be directed to
Deborah Del Gais, Curator of Asian Art
(Acknowledgement to A Handbook of the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, edited by Carla Mathes Woodward and Franklin W. Robinson, as well as Curator Deborah Del Gais, for the information above.)
The Costume and Textile Collection of the RISD Museum possesses approximately four hundred pieces from South Asia. Many of these are from the regions of Rajasthan, Sind, and Kutch, though some hail from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region or as far as Tibet. Many of the pieces in the Asian collection (which as a whole includes over 3,000 costume and textile objects) were collected and then donated by Miss Lucy Truman Aldrich, who traveled throughout Asia during the 1920s collecting interesting and unique pieces.
Notable to the collection is a Kashmiri Jamewar length of double-interlocking twill tapestry weave. Dated to the late 18th century, the fabric features the millefleurs ("thousand flowers") design worked in the same technique as the famous Kashmir shawls. It is possible (with the aid of a magnifying glass) to count eighty weft threads per inch woven in by hand. Such delicate work would have required a lengthy preparation involving as many as six specialists! The length of the piece indicates that it may have been intended for a man's coat, with the thin borders delineating either the center opening or the lower edge of the garment.
Another exceptional holding is an early 19th century patolu sari from Gujurat. The patolu sari is invested with considerable ritual status due to the time-consuming nature of the precise process of resist-dyeing both warp and weft threads before weaving (double ikat). The sari features a lozenge pattern of flowers and heart-shaped leaves adapted from the sacred pipal tree. This particular design is called Vohra gajji bhat ("design preferred by the Vohra Muslims") and refers to Vohra Muslim traders in western Gujurat descended from Hindu ancestors who have retained several Hindu customs despite the change in religion. One such custom is the celebration of the first pregnancy, to which such a patolu sari might be worn.
This textile collection includes almost forty saris, many of which were showcased in a special exhibition in 2005 entitled 'The Splendid Sari.' Currently on display on the sixth floor of the RISD Museum is an equally impressive display entitled 'Razzle-Dazzle: The Language of Ornament in Asian Costume and Textiles,' an exhibition of mirrored, feathered and otherwise bedecked clothing and textiles, including a number of exceptional South Asian pieces hailing from Northeastern India, Western India, and Pakistan.
For information about the Textile Collection, contact:
Madelyn Shaw, Curator
Kate Irvin, Assistant Curator
(Acknowledgement to Kate Irvin for her help with all the information provided.)