December 23, 2015

Medicine Corner plan Tabiyat & a series of activities across the country

Some “dawa daaru”?

Medicine Corner is back with an array of activities planned around various cities in India. Medicine Corner, whom we had profiled back in May this year, is an initiative supported by Wellcome Collection, the public cultural venue in London of the Wellcome Trust, which collates and celebrates the pluralism of medicine practices in India. India, with its various methods and beliefs, has a rich history of “alternate”, or let’s call it, the lesser-known, local or traditional practices of healing and medicine.

This January, after a year of research, Medicine Corner is hosting an exhibition called Tabiyat: Medicine and Healing in India, at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Mumbai from 12 January  to 28 March 2016.

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Amrutanjan Pain Balm box; 1950; Acquired for Wellcome Collection

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An Ayurvedic medical practitioner taking the pulse. Commissioned by Colonel James Skinner. Unknown Delhi artist, 1825. Watercolour. Wellcome Library, London

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Astronomical diagram representing sun and moon eclipse. Early 20th Century. Museum of Folk and Tribal Arts at Academy of Fine Arts and Literature, Delhi

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Colour plates in Hamsasvarupa Maharaj, Satcakranirupanacitra, Trikutivilas Press, Muzaffarpur, 1903. Wellcome Library, London 7

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Cowasjee, a man who had his nose reconstructed. Stipple engraving, portrait print; engraved by William Nutter from an original painting by James Wales, Gentleman’s Magazine, London, 1794. Wellcome Library, London

Tabiyat is the centrepiece of Medicine Corner. The exhibition explores the history of traditional and modern medicinal practices in India through an array of mediums, rare antiquities, peculiar sculptures, textiles, old manuscripts, and a walk through some intimate items, such as foot scrubbers and combs, bringing a whole new imagery to medicine in India.

Objects from different sources,  domestic utensils, oil paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, plaques and board games, including a snakes and ladders board from the late 18th century – the game has Indian roots, displayed in one place, will make you feel like a wide-eyed kid wandering through a street full of trinkets; peeking into the treasure hunt that Medicine Corner must have been.

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Earthenware albarello; Iran; 12th Century CE; Science Museum London

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Fakir’s sandals_late 19th early 20th Century CE_Science Museum London

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Gauri Gill, Birth Series 1 (From Birth Series 2010), Silver gelatin print. Image courtesy Gauri Gill

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Hamsasvarupa, Satcakrarupanicitram, India, 1903, published book, 35 x 34 cm. Wellcome Library, London

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Kailash Utwal. Bonesetter’s sign-board from Dharavi, Mumbai. Acquired 2015, for Wellcome Collection, London 1

And of course, Tabiyat also takes visitors through the spiritual healing and belief systems in India, practiced in the homes, on the streets, in clinics,  in groups and in nooks and crannies of our cities.

In curatorial dialogue with Tabiyat is an exhibition at Akar Prakar Gallery in Kolkata: Jeevanchakra, which strings the life cycle of the human body and its contact with medical practice into a poetic flow, through photographs, video, paintings and multi-media installations by leading contemporary Indian artists.

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Kawala, son of the painter Bagta_Ascetics preparing and smoking opium_about 1810 CE_Gouache, with gold_Wellcome Library London

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Leprosy. Be Vigilant! Lithograph, 1950s. Hind Kusht Nivaran Sangh (Indian Leprosy Association) Wellcome Library, London

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Spraying jets of water onto a street affected by plague, Bombay, 1896. Attributed to Captain C. Moss of the Bombay Plague Committee. Facsimile. Wellcome Library, London

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The Ayurvedic Man. A figure showing Ayurvedic understanding of human anatomy_Pen and watercolour_Probably 18th Century CE, probably of Nepalese origin_Wellcome Library, London

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Vajri (foot scrubber). 18th or 19th Century. Brass. CSMVS permanent collection

The British Council in New Delhi, will also host a workshop and live performance by BLOT! who were commissioned by the Wellcome Collection to create this video to launch Medicine Corner earlier this year in Chennai. Their research has led to a larger project, Trick or Treat? which uses media arts to examine India’s vast parallel health system of informal practices such as street dentistry. In wry, playful but insightful ways, BLOT! raises momentous issues of access, affordability and equity.

Across these cities and across different cultural forms, Medicine Corner addresses collisions such as those between ancient and modern, formal and informal, Indian and imported. The programme complements the way in which Wellcome Collection uses art and exhibitions in order to draw connections between understanding oneself, one’s civilisation and humanity.

Sign up for Tabiyat here.
Read more about the Medicine Corner here or visit their website. Keep up with what they’re upto in your city and visit their exhibits in Jan!

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