Sir Christopher Ondaatje South Asian Gallery: Opening February 16, 2008
Dewan, Deepali, ROM Magazine
With a magnificent view overlooking Bloor Street, the new Sir Christopher Ondaatje South Asian Gallery presents the ROM's renowned collections of the artistic and cultural traditions of South Asia. The first permanent gallery in Canada devoted to South Asian culture when it first opened in 2000, the gallery now features many more of the ROM's outstanding religious objects and sculpture, decorative arts, arms and armour, miniature paintings, and textiles originating from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Tibet.
It was in this region that Buddhist art was born and developed, and the gallery features examples from the 3rd to 5th centuries, icons of the feminine divine, and early representations of the divine from across the region. In the Himalayan region, artists first gave concrete form to the previously more esoteric concepts of Buddhism, and early examples are displayed.
On the commerce side, the gallery examines the social, political, and cultural relationships that were established through South Asia's trade with the Dutch, Portuguese, and British from the 15th to 19th centuries.
Altogether, more than 350 artifacts represent South Asia's varied cultural traditions with highlights including a section on material cultures from the Indus Valley Civilization of Pakistan (2500-1900 BCE) to the Sunga Period in northern India (3rd-2nd century BCE). This part of the world is known for its courtly culture, and lavish luxury items and displays of grandeur are shown. The gallery also exhibits modern and contemporary art of South Asia and of the South Asian diaspora.
From the Curator's perspective
Krishna, one of the best known and most complex of the Hindu gods, is usually depicted with dark blue skin and can be identified by the peacock feather in his crown. …