Tribal village in the city
It is quite likely that if you are trying to locate the Tribal Cultural Museum situated in the premises of the Tribal Research and Training Institute in Pune you may pass by without noticing it (at least, that is what happened in my case). The reason: the exterior does not quite match the image of a museum that a visitor has in mind and, so, could escape notice.
The Institute is located in Queen's Garden close to the old Circuit House alongside the road that leads to Yerawada. Once you find it, you can be assured of a cursory glimpse into the tribal life in Maharashtra, sufficient enough to appreciate the ingenuity and artistic skills of the various tribes.
The Warlis from Thane district have come to be recognised for their intricate designs using triangles, circles and squares. The Museum has a collection of Warli paintings on display. Apart from the Warlis, the Museum has provided information and displayed artifacts belonging to other tribes like Gamit or Mavchi from Dhule district, Pawara, Kokna, the Bhils, Dhodia, Katkari, Madia, Halbi, and Kawar.
Bamboo is the chief material of use by the tribes who live in perfect harmony with nature. They use bamboo for making everything - utensils, agricultural implements, hunting implements, musical instruments, baskets and fishing traps. This activity amply demonstrates their creativity; the Museum has on display a sizeable number of bamboo artifacts. Apart from using wood, clay, stones and bamboos, the tribes also make use of gourds to make household utensils! There are some metal artifacts; the information provided states that these have been made using the "Dokra" art form (known as the lost wax technique) - an ancient form of making metal figures. The Museum has also on display certain articles used in tribal black magic!
Among other things, the Museum has displayed a good collection of musical instruments and masks. Bohada festival of masks is very popular in Thane and Nashik tribal belts, according to the information provided at the Museum. The Koknas and Warlis, in particular, have over 54 characters of masks - that of deities, cosmic beings, demons, spirits and mythological characters, reads the information. The masks are made from paper mache, wood, clay, cow dung, bamboo and even metal. As regards musical instruments, the tribes make their own musical instruments and decorate them with feathers, ribbons and mirrors. The musical instruments are made from pumpkin, bamboo, wood, animal skin, clay-pots and seeds. A number of musical instruments have been displayed including "Tibuli (a rhythm instrument made by stretching goat's skin on a semi-circular earthen pot)", "Ghangli (string instrument)", "Shahenai", "Tappa", bugle, "Dhol", "Dhak" and "Dhimki" which is played by the Korku tribe of Amrawati. Women love their ornaments; the exhibits include a collection of ornaments.
The Museum also provides some interesting nuggets of information. One such piece of information is about the courtship between a Madia boy and girl and their marriage. Madia boys and girls socialize at "Ghotuls" which are cultural institutions situated outside the Madia villages. If a boy likes a girl he gives her a wooden comb called "Hichadi". The comb is a symbol of engagement. The boy then sets about making a wooden pillar (Devmundha) for the girl. The pillar is a decorative one and it takes the boy a year or two to complete it. The Devmundha is kept in front of the "Ghotul" and is a symbol of marriage.
After viewing the artifacts as you make to leave, you find yourself in a tribal village. There are replicas of tribal huts - there is a Warli hut, a Kolam hut, a Madia hut and a Korku hut. Life-size figures of a father and son hunting birds with bows and arrows, a woman grinding grain, a man fishing with a fish trap, and a Warli man playing a musical instrument outside his hut does make you feel for a while that you are in a tribal village. It is quite an interesting visit.