Amid row, German museum opens with ancient Indian art, Naga tattooist’s work | India News – Times of India

The Humboldt Forum, one of Germany’s biggest and Europe’s most prominent museums of artefacts, arts and culture, opened its doors fully to the public on Saturday, hosting invaluable ancient and medieval Indian collections and the work of a renowned tattooist Mo Naga from the northeast. The Indian exhibits include statues of Bodhisattva and Buddha dating back to the 2nd-3rd century AD and a 17th century golden miniature painting of Shah Jahan. The museum in Berlin has been in the eye of a storm globally over “looted” colonial-era artefacts and clamour for their return.
The east wing of the museum, Germany’s most expensive cultural project built at a cost of $679 million, houses collections of the earlier Ethnological Museum and the Museum of Asian Art and has around 20,000 exhibits.
Apart from the permanent collections, Humboldt is holding six temporary exhibitions and Naga Land — Voices from Northeast India is one of them. The exhibition, Humboldt said, looks at contemporary Naga society and its cultural identity, juxtaposing the historical Naga collection of the Ethnological Museum with contemporary photography, fashion, and visual arts from the region. The work of tattooist Moranngam Khaling, better known as Mo Naga, will be featured as part of the Naga Land exhibition. He teaches the almost-vanished tribal art of hand-tapped tattooing.
“Mo Naga is the most famous Naga tattoo artist who is causing a revival of tattoos, we contacted him personally,” the curator of the Ethnological Museum at Humboldt told TOI, adding that the “exhibition will run until 2024”.
“The collaboration of any big museumhelps in my attempt at revival of Indian tattoo culture. These exhibitions help look at tattoos from a different perspective,” Mo, who belongs to the Uipo Naga tribe of Manipur, told TOI.
Most of the exhibits in the Humboldt Forum come from former European colonies. Before the opening of the eastern wing, the museum was hit by a massive protest seeking the repatriation of the Benin Bronzes, a collection of over 500 items from the royal palace of the Kingdom of Benin (present day Nigeria). Germany and Nigeria signed an agreement and while some artefacts will be returned to Nigeria, about a third of the collection will “remain on loan” in Berlin for an initial period of 10 years.
Mo believes that in whatever manner the artefacts were taken to Europe, they will return. “We can’t not care, repatriation is a slow process,” said Mo.

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