Massive urns, beautiful vases, miniature bowls, potsherds with twisted rope impressions, imitated amphorae (wine jars) and so on from different parts of south India are on display at Fort Museum, Fort St. George, Chennai.

The exhibition — “The Ceramic Heritage of South India” — has been organised by the Fort Museum of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Chennai Circle, to celebrate the International Museum Day. The exhibition showcases the rich ceramic tradition of south India that has developed over the past 4000 years.

On display are spectacularly big urns, excavated at Adichanallur near Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu in the last few years by the ASI, Chennai Circle. The pottery found at Adichanallur dates back to the Iron Age (Megalithic period). The collection includes exquisite thin black-and-red ware with a smooth finish.

There are beakers, vases, bowls, miniature bowls, dish-on-stands and ring stands. These pottery were kept around big urns that either had skeletons or did not have skeletons in the burial pits at Adichanallur. There are also urns with big lids on them.

Some of the exhibits, which were excavated from Banahalli in Kolar district, Karnataka, belong to the Neolithic period (4000 years ago).

P.S. Sriraman, Assistant Superintending Archaeologist, Fort Museum, said human beings those days remained as sedentary communities, producing and processing food. Therefore, they needed storage facilities and this could have prompted them to invent pottery.

The Banahalli collection includes hand-made thick potsherds with thumb impressions, twisted rope impressions, criss-cross designs and circular designs. There were also burial pottery, belonging to Chalcolithic age (3,500 to 3,000 years ago) from the Banahalli site.

According to Mr. Sriraman, ancient societies took special care to prepare burial pots, as they believed in life after death. Hence pots with spouted channels like the modern-day “kendi” were generally used in obsequies, he said. Visitors can see such “kendis” in the exhibition. The black-and-red ware pots, belonging to Banahalli are also on display. Ancient societies used a special technique of inverted firing to make these pots. The portion that received oxygen supply looked red and the one that did not get the oxygen became black.

An interesting artefact, found at Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu, is a pot with the potter’s name inscribed in Brahmi script but in Prakrit language. On display are beautiful-looking terracota measure with designs and imitated amphorae found at Kancheepuram. There are a number of potsherds with graffiti marks and these graffiti marks belong to undeciphered realms of archaeology, Mr. Sriraman said. Visitors can see imported Roman pottery found at Arikamedu near Puducherry. The exhibition, which features excavated tools such as 4,000-year old dabbers and burnishers, will be open up to May 24. Source: TheHindu