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Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

Hearst Museum to open "Land of the Rajas" exhibit

shoes  Slide show: From the Land of the Rajas: Creativity in Rajasthan

– "From the Land of the Rajas: Creativity in Rajasthan," a new exhibition that opens Feb. 2 at the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, explores a northwestern Indian state famed for its princely rulers' enthusiasm for a wide range of colorful and distinctive art styles.

One dramatic display will feature a 30-foot painted scroll depicting the epic of Pabuji, a semi-divine folk hero. Traditionally, the Pabuji tale is recounted in a 36-hour performance by professional storytellers, usually a married couple called a Bhopa and Bhopi.

Some 150 objects to be on display through Dec. 21 include domestic crafts, wedding textiles, festival material, puppets and theatrical costumes, ritual masks, musical instruments, paintings for traveling storytellers, temple sculptures and paintings, and paintings made for tourists. Curator and Hearst Museum research anthropologist Ira Jacknis noted that one large and impressive temple hanging features the Hindu god Krishna surrounded by beautiful milkmaids or "ghopis."

Many of the Rajasthan pieces are uncommon in American museum collections because of their large size and rare glimpses into the ritual arts of Rajasthan.

The exhibition also will feature film footage of some of the artifacts in use, including storytellers and their scroll and puppet performances. Hands-on activities for all ages will include the opportunity to try on Rajastani costumes or learn to tie a turban.

Joanna Williams, a UC Berkeley professor of art history and an authority on the art of India and Southeast Asia, helped advise the Hearst Museum on its exhibition, as well as on a related one, "Princes, Palaces and Passions," that also opens on Feb. 2 at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. The two programs aren't as likely to compete as they are to spur increased Bay Area interest in Indian art and to draw viewers to each locale to see the fabulous artifacts, such as the Hearst Museum's distinctively tie-dyed Rajasthan turbans, she said.

The Hearst Museum exhibition will display cultural objects chosen from its own approximately 230-piece collection from Rajasthan, most of which were obtained by a UC Berkeley anthropology graduate student around 1969-1970.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco program will be more historically based and drawn from collections around the world, according to Williams and Jacknis.

"We're showing the fuller range of Rajasthan folk art," said Jacknis.

The Hearst Museum is home to the largest and oldest anthropological collection in the West. It preserves and interprets a global record of material culture through its approximately 3.8 million objects. Through research, exhibition and programs, the Hearst Museum promotes the history and diversity of human cultures that span several thousand years. Guided tours are available by appointment.

Starting this year, museum admission is free. The museum is at 102 Kroeber Hall, near the intersection of Bancroft Way and College Avenue. Hours of operation are 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and noon - 4 p.m. Sundays.