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Don Bosco Museum

The Don Bosco Museum is the largest cultural museum of the Asian continent, a branch of DBCIC (Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures). Don Bosco Museum is situated at Mawlai, Shillong. DBCIC comprises Research on Training, Cultures, Animation Programmes, Publications, which is a place of knowledge-sharing on the different cultures of the Northeast and India. Don Bosco Museum is showcases culture and tradition of Mizoram, Nagaland, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, and Tripura.

The museum displays a wide collection of artwork, ornamentation, regional attires, weapons, handicrafts,  and photographs. The Museum was opened to the public towards the end of 2003. It has been attracting visitors ever since not only from the region but from all over India and abroad. The seven-floor museum offers the visitor an historic experience of the Northeast by means of over 14 aesthetically amusing, pleasing and informative galleries. For an extra Rs. 50, a video explains the Nongkrem festival or you could choose from various film alternatives. The newly added sky walk is breath – taking that flaunts the visitors a 360° view of the beautiful Queen City of the North East, Shillong. Comparably attractive is the 28 feet by 25 feet relief map of the Northeast in fiberglass. All the galleries in the Don Bosco Museum are provided with Multimedia Presentations.

Museums in Shillong

Galleries in Don Bosco Museum

With seven stories, 56,000 square feet of floor space and 15,154 sq ft display wall space, DBCIC contains 17 galleries displaying cultural artifacts and paintings.  It is useful and often visited by older research students, anthropologists and school students since this area of India is an anthropologist’s paradise. Here, the Museum displays the unique characteristics of each State in terms of population geography and natural resources with anthropological aspects. It also shows the cultural dimensions of civilization like dance and music, arts and crafts which are demonstrated through video, models, pictures, and latest multimedia technologies.

Alcove Gallery

An architectural term for a recess, Alcove Gallery is usually screened off by pillars, balustrades or drapery. Each alcove in this museum exhibits a quiet corner where you can feel at home. There are 22 alcoves in this museum. In each of the alcove there is a representation of the tribe to welcome you and to make you feel at home in North East India as the Museum depicts the culture all the eight States of North East India. Details about each of the alcoves can be illustrated using the touch screen that is placed at the end of the Alcove Gallery.

Language Gallery

It caters to the charts showing the languages of the North East India, Asia and the world. North East India as a whole is home to more than 200 languages, and many more dialects. Even though most of the languages in the region belong to the Tibeto-Burman sub-family of the Sino-Tibetan family, the languages are highly mixed and can not be comprehended usually. The region also has a large number of Austro-Asiatic and Indo-Aryan speakers. This mixed bag may have resulted in constrained  interactions between villages and their neighbors and therefore a common language came into existence.

Neighboring Countries Gallery

This gallery is a recent addition. It advertises the neighboring countries surrounding the North East of India: Bhutan, Nepal, China [including Tibet], Bangladesh and Myanmar. It is a small but beautiful “gem” among the other galleries. The touch screen in it gives basic information on each country.

 Photo Gallery

The Photo Gallery has a large number of unique photos of black and white and in color from the North East depicting the cultural life of the people many decades ago. The black and white ones give us some glimpses of tribal villages of the past, before the onset of modernization in their region. The pictures are of all the tribes across Arunachal Pradesh in the north to Tripura in the south. All of this can be viewed in the computer screen where the visitor can go through the pictures on their own time.

Mission and Culture Gallery

The Mission and Culture has four sections that showcases the different cultures in India’s North East and the Church.

In section 1, a crown of dances and ornamental figures on the top edge of the gallery represents the admiration of the Church for the region’s cultural diversity.

The section 2 of the gallery provides the images of services given by the Church in terms of medical care,  education, higherand technical education, publication, formation of associations, formation of religious congregations, sowing of the word of God, youth ministry, and encouraging people to serve others.

In Section 3, depicts the history of the above-mentioned services from the First to the Twentieth century.

In Section 4 we get to know about the Meghalaya Gallery. In this gallery we are informed about  the Khasi mythology and the Garo mythology

Introductory and Pre Historic Gallery

Museums in Shillong

This gallery will give you knowledge about the demographic composition of North East India, and also about evolution of mankind. There are three wall paintings in the gallery. The first painting  displays displays a Geo-political map of North East India and the second and third paintings provides information about the influence on the cultural profile and tribal distribution of North East India.

Land and People Gallery

This gallery exhibits a beautiful overview of the places and peoples of the North East, 26 in black and white, 32 large size photographs in color and 18 life size fiberglass figures and 60 busts in this exciting presentation. This Gallery acquaints us to the immense topographical and human richness of the North East. The many tribal faces, the countless differences in their tribes and traditions, lifestyle as well as similarities among them make the North East a unique part of the country.

Fishing, Hunting and Gathering Gallery

Fishing, hunting and gathering depicts the age old livelihood strategies of mankind. This gallery gives us information regarding the traditional artifacts used for hunting, fishing and gathering. The gallery also displays the traditional implements that were used by people of the community for hunting and fishing.

Agriculture Gallery

Agriculture is the livelihood of a large number of people in India’s North East, and 80% of people economy depends on this sector. Even though North East has undergone dramatic changes in the field of agriculture over the past decades, yet   agriculture still remains the subsistence economy in most villages. Agriculture also plays an dominant factor in the culture of the region, and many of the dances, festivals and songs centres around the annual agricultural cycle. This gallery also introduces us to the 3 main techniques of agriculture in the region; wet-rice cultivation, plough cultivation and shifting cultivation.

Traditional Technology Gallery

This gallery exhibits various kinds of traditional crafts found among the tribes in North East India. As we walk along, we see exhibition of brewing of rice beer, pottery making, basket making, blacksmiths, weaving, goldsmiths, leather making wood carving, and cane making. Right from the early days, each community has developed its own designs and technique in these crafts.

Most of the tribe, for example, has its own unique shawl, which is woven by the womenfolk, and in which they take great pride since it represents their tribe. As for the Nagas it is said that they have woven their history into their shawls, which are of different colors and designs .As we move  on to the right, we walk into a hall displaying a wide variety of traditional  showpieces and utensils, crockery.  Betel nut trays are also exhibited, which are of various sizes and colors, earthen pots, metal bowls and pots, bamboo made sun shields and hats, and hand fans. If you want to know more about the items exhibited the touch screen would be of great help for providing more background information.

Basketry Gallery

This gallery gives a wonderful overview of different tribes including Khasi, Karbi, and Naga involved in similar vocation of basket making. The village design takes the visitor to the farthest corners of the North East.

Gallery Basketry is an inborn skill and talent for all communities in North East India, each and every tribe is engaged in it, and baskets are produced in many shapes and forms, which are used for different purposes. They are used for community houses crops or containers for household goods, or for carrying baggage, piece of art and merchandise. The baskets on display include the ones which are carefully woven used to carry rice form the fields, or to carry fish from the river to the village or the market.

Baskets are usually made of bamboo i.e about a year old, gathered from the forest usually between July and October. After its branches and leaves are removed, it is cut to the required length. Then the piece is split into splints about an inch wide. The process to which the splints are to be put is taken into account – the splints, for mats etc. The art of basketry portrays the importance of bamboo in the material culture of most tribes. Apart from baskets various other household items like saucers, plates, spoons and combs, as well as fishing and agricultural utensils are also made from bamboo. Bamboo is also used for head-gears of different shapes and rain shields.

 Musical Instruments Gallery

Music plays a major role in the life and culture of most people in the North East. Music tells the stories of the tribes’ people. Most of the tribes have a rich oral tradition, and   through music knowledge and folktales are transmitted through generations.  Songs and dances are often inspired by the annual agricultural cycle, the natural environment or by historical events like war and conflicts of the past, the founding of the village,. Some songs and dance forms have become famous and popular across the country, for example like the Manipuri Dance. This dance is called pung dance and displays the soul of classical Manipuri dance.

Music and dance is considered to be an important ritual character, and is a primary part of all social and devotional ceremonies among the Meithei community of Manipur. According to this style, the dancers play the pung, a hand beaten drum, while they dance around acrobatically at the same time.We are taken through a number of wall plaques in this gallery which introduce us to the relationship between culture and religion. The principal idea behind this gallery is that culture and religion both have elements which unite people, and if we properly understand religion and culture, the two are meant to unite all the people across the world as brothers and sisters.

Religion and Cultures gallery

Before we start with the first plaque, which is on our left, let’s first have a look at the miniature tower in front of us. It is a rath, which represents a tower, and it is used for during the Behdeinklam festival celebrated by the Jaintias. Behdeinklam is one of the most important dance festivals of the Jaintias. It is celebrated only after the sowing period is over.  This festival can be seen being celebrated in July in jowai. Behdeinkhlam is an invocation to god seeking his blessings for a good harvest. The women do not participate in the dance, but they remain at home. They have an important function to play at home, for it is they who offer submission of sacrificial food to the spirits of the ancestors and the ancestress.

Weapons Gallery

Feuds and conflicts were a part of life of the people in the past. Every village, tribes, and conglomeration of villages had to defend themselves against invasions and raids by others, or they usually go on war themselves on the advance to enslave others. The environmental surroundings, too, were no less; it was full of dangers with wild animals like bears and tigers wandering in the jungle. In order to protect themselves, as well as warfare, weapons were their only tools and no village could do without it. Weapons were the means of surviving .This gallery will provide us an idea of the various sorts of weapons used amongst the different tribes in India’s North East. The gallery is to portray how people struggled for survival.

Costumes and Ornaments Gallery

Don bosco museum

Each and every tribe in North East India has its own unique traditional attire, including ornaments of various kinds and designs. Each of these attires and ornaments has a different color which tells a story with the patter that’s embedded on it. The costumes are meaningful and often bring with them a long history. The tribes identify themselves with these attires and ornaments, and people have an attachment of great value to their traditional attire, which can be seen that is worn during official ceremonies, festivals or during church services. This gallery will give us an impressive array of traditional attires from across India’s North East.

Don Bosco and Cultures gallery

Don Bosco was a priest who was poor, had an illiterate mother, with a big dream and nothing in his heart apart from love. He was penniless; he neither had influential friend or family. He lived a very simple life. He had deep trust in God of whom his mother had taught him, he sympathized the homeless boys in the streets; he had deep love for them, for whom no one seemed to care. Today, his name spreads like wild fire, it’s like magic. Millions of young people have found hope and love and learnt to live responsible because of him, he has change a lot of lives especially the young lives. Don Bosco once even challenge the authorities that he would take the prisoners for an outing without any police protection so he can let them have a little bit of freedom, space, fun and love, and would bring them back, the authorities let him go and later on the prisoners. He believes in the “preventive systems” based on relationships and kindness rather than the “repressive system” which is based on rules and punishments. Prisoner or not, he loved the young ones and they need love more than any other thing in the world. When asked about the three pillars of his system—he mentioned: religion, reason and loving kindness. Uncouth, rough, clumsy young men who swore and gambled for their lives found something unusual in this priest as someone who under stand’s them, and one of the boy even mentioned that he never felt the kind of love he got from the priest from anywhere else.

Don Bosco path of love inspired many men and women who choose the same path life. He founded the two Catholic orders, one for men, called the Salesian, and the other for women, called the Daughter of Mary, Help of Christians (or Salesian sisters). The name Salesian is attained from the priest he admired, Saint Francis De Sale, who believes that loving kindness wins over people than better harshness. Today, these two groups, along with 26 others founded by the Salesian, are working in 130 different countries. Their method is what don Bosco lived and taught----the preventive system of education, based on reason, religion and loving kindness. Don Bosco knew how to tender heart with great practical sense. He always believed that these people living on the street needed more love and also they need God. But, they also need jobs, recreation and wise advice for their future. In the same way he wanted the Salesian to provide an integral education to young people so they can be responsible, caring spouse and parent, with concern for others and readiness to help.

The Don Bosco Youth Centre in India is large and very much alive, stretching from gigantic urban centres from Mumbai, Kolkata to the remotest villages. It has thousands of service centres catering to boys and girls of the youth. It aims at loving the young just as Don Bosco had provided them where he or she can grow up to be productive and responsible towards society.

Housing pattern Gallery

The traditional houses across the tribes of North East India are built in various shapes, forms and styles. The housing pattern of the tribes of the region is generally accustomed by the topography of the region. However, the traditional houses share simplicity in appearance and structure, and are mostly constructed with materials derived from nature such as wood, bamboo, leaves of trees, grass, mud, and hay. Many villages are built on mountain slopes or on hill-tops, where they would stand guarding their rice fields below.

Historically, protection was required and therefore a a hill-top was generally regarded as the safest location, since it is easier for the villagers to spot enemies from afar. Traditional houses in the plains are usually built on bamboo poles to protect themselves from creeping animals. As we take a tour of   this gallery we find a plaque of the North East with different styles of traditional houses displayed on it. These give us a notion of how tribes across the region traditionally constructed their houses.

Arts Gallery

This gallery opens window for people’s creativity and talent with collection of rare paintings and artifacts from different states of North East India.

Facilities at the Museum

Lift, touch screens, tabs, computer area for students, souvenir counter, drinking water, A/C media hall, parking, toilets, sky walk to view Shillong. In addition to this there are also exhibition of cultural artifacts, study and research, cultural related publication and activities and knowledge sharing.

Contact Details :

Don Bosco centre for Indigenous center
Mawlai, 793008 Shillong, Meghalaya India.
Email: iputhen@gmail.com
Mobile number: 09436118732/ 098621 79369.
Tel: +91 3642550 260/ 2550 261.
Website: www.dbcic.org
Blog: www.dbcic.blogspot.com
For further information: info@dbcic.com / director@dbcic.com
For research related queries: research@dbcic.com

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