Kurkihar bronzes at Bihar Museum

As part of today’s initiative to highlight the work of museums – #MuseumPassion – we hear from Mr Deepak Anand (IAS), Director and Dr Vishi Upadhyay (India, ITP Fellow 2019) Curatorial Associate, Bihar Museum, Patna, Bihar, India.

Bihar Museum was planned in 2009 as a museum to showcase the history of the eastern State of Bihar. It was planned and executed based on the latest international and technological standards from the Art, Culture and Youth Department of the Government of Bihar. Construction was completed in 2017 at an estimated cost of 498 crore INR (US $ 72 million). Bihar Museum is located in the ancient city of Patna and meets all international standards of the Government of India. The Museum showcases the ancient and rich heritage of the State of Bihar from the Prehistoric to the modern period through the ancient, medieval and early modern periods of its history. It’s collection comes from the older Patna Museum.

Bihar Museum has a total of seven galleries. The History Galleries – sub-divided as A, B, C, D; the Regional Art Gallery; the Diaspora Gallery (dedicated to Bihar’s denizens across the globe); the Contemporary Art Gallery; the Children’s Gallery (for Natural History and history for children) and finally a ‘visible storage’ with a collection of approximately 100,000 objects. The Museum’s execution was supported by Lord Cultural Resources (a Canadian agency and master consultant), designed by the Maki and Associates (Japan) and with the galleries fabricated by CNJV and Kingsman (Singapore).

Contemporary art work in the courtyard at Bihar Museum created by artist Subodh Gupta.

From the vision of museum curators, the Kurkihar bronzes are fascinating and a highlight of the collection at Bihar Museum which attract visitors and scholars from all different age groups. The treasure was discovered in place named Kurkihar in Bihar State, India in 1930 and belong to the Pala period (9th– 12th century). The hoard of 231 bronzes including Buddha, Bodhisattva, stupa, bells, and ritual objects. All the objects were cast by a lost wax method and are masterpieces of the high level of artistic craftsmanship. A few objects are inscribed and give information about their contemporary context such as donations. Polish over the surface of the bronzes gives a divine appearance. Today most of these masterpieces are displayed in History Gallery B and the Art Gallery at Bihar Museum.

The Kurkihar bronze collection reflects the importance of religion, economy and prosperity of the past society in the Bihar region. 

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