In rural Saurashtra, carved wooden hangers for turbans were very popular. The projecting pegs of these anchor shaped objects were usually formed like horse-heads.
For tying a turban, a wooden dummy in the form of a man’s head and bust was used by professional turban winders. When they satisfactorily completed winding a turban around the dummy they lifted it and placed on the head of the actual wearer. The dummies had fine sculputuresque qualities. Some of these had a compartment for storing needles, thread, scissors, etc.
Turbans were wound with great care and intricacy. Once wound, these were put on and removed from the head of the wearer without disturbing its form. While taking rest, these were removed from the head and placed inside the specially made turban-boxes which were often beautifully adorned.
In Rajasthan, even something as mundane as the stick for beating out dirt while washing clothes was minutely carved.
In Gujarat, the wooden implements for distributing and sowing seeds in the furrows had charming designs carved on the outer surface. The same implement cast in bronze has also come to light. In many areas, long brass pegs with the heads of bullocks, peacocks, etc. were pierced into the yoke as stoppers. For pouring medicine down the throats of domesticated animals, highly sophisticated hollow brass tubes were designed. Noisy rattles were used for chasing away birds from the fields as also when garden parties were held. Among the former ruling families of Rajasthan there was a custom of giving a gun-salute to a distinguished guest. A gadget devised for exploding gunpowder for this purpose is one of the interesting objects in the collection.
A simple stone meant for grating sandal wood into paste had the lotus symbol carved on its lower side. This could only be seen when the stone was washed and dried against the wall. The floor at the entrance to the house was freshly adorned daily with auspicious threshold designs. Brass containers and stencils with perforations were filled with white or coloured powders for making such designs.
Consumption of opium was very popular in many parts of India. Gadgets for mixing and filtering opium, often adorned with Shaivite symbols, were made of iron, brass, wood or stone. A few of these are displayed in the Museum.
Boxes of variety of shapes, sizes and designs were fondly acquired and used for storing jewellery, cash, perfumes or even eatables. The Museum has a fine collection of such boxes.
Scales, Weights and Measures:
For selling or bartering liquids items like oil or ghee or solids like food-grains, both the systems of weighing and measuring were in vogue. A synthesis of accuracy of measure and elegant form and design was discernible in many scales and measuring bowls.
Noteworthy are the bronze rice-measures from Eastern India.
Ovens and Tongs:
Ovens of iron, brass and copper were used in Vaishnava temples and in aristocratic houses to warm up against the winter. Some of these with wheels at the bottom could be rolled on the floor according to requirement. Those having chains were suspended from the roof so that the smoke did not gather in the living area of the room.
Tongs of brass, copper or iron were used by hukkah smokers to rearrange burning coal or by goldsmiths to handle heated metal pieces while fashioning ornaments. A few smaller ones were meant for plucking body hair. Some tongs had a sliding knob to tighten the grip. Even a small instrument like a pair of tongs was often made with great care and aesthetic awareness.
Locks and Latches:
Locks with a number of levers operated by key seem to be known and used in India over many centuries. Giant locks were used for protecting the gates of places and forts. In Kerala, the locks and latches attached to chests, and the entrance doors were made with especially elaborate ornamentation.