Museums Victoria holds a wide range of material representing the history and culture of Indian communities in Australia, and people of Indian heritage who have settled in our region. This may also include Pakistan and Bangladesh, often referred to collectively as the 'subcontinent' or  'Indian subcontinent', which can hide the diversity of cultures, countries and identities.

Museums Victoria's collections include precious items donated by families of Indian heritage in Victoria; over 2,700 coins and medals from the area historically referred to as the Indian sub-continent; 141 clay figurines from the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition, representing the Indian districts of Pune, Krishnanagar and Lucknow; and 106 items displayed at the 1886 Indian and Colonial Exhibition in London. The collection also includes over 450 specimens of plants and animals from India, such as an Indian rhinoceros skull (C 32819); Indian peafowls (including 61459); and samples of silk such as Indian Tussah silkworm (Antheraea mylitta) (including ST 000049).

A significant proportion of the Indian 'economic botany' items in the museum's collection were acquired before 1887, largely donated by the Indian Government in Calcutta (Kolkata). Collector T.N. Mukharji of (then) Bombay (Mumbai) is named as collector for many items. The larger T.N. Mukharji Collection comprises 1123 items, although not all are identified as Indian origin, and further research is required.

Among the cultural treasures in the Museum's collection is a sari worn by Hazra Bibi when she married in Suva, Fiji in 1977 at the age of 17 (HT 27006); and letters from then Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Scott Morrison and from the Premier of Victoria, the Hon. Daniel Andrews, to  Sikh Volunteers Australia, on behalf of the Sikh volunteer community in Victoria, acknowledging the community's extraordinary volunteer work during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 (HT 57139 and HT 57140).

Collections which reflect the everyday life of children include a latoo - an Indian child's spinning top whose point was sharpened by a blacksmith every night to ensure it spun fast (SH 990235); and two patka (male children's Sikh head coverings) one in Richmond Tigers AFL football team colours, worn around 2010 by brothers Avtej (Arvi) and Ronnie Singh (HT 24214 and 24216).


Museums Victoria Origins web site

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