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70th anniversary of Indian Independence celebrated with new exhibitions
The royal elephant Madhukar, By Hashim, Mughal, probably Agra, c.1630-1640 © The Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge.

CAMBRIDGE.- Two exhibitions and a new book have launched at the Fitzwilliam Museum to mark the 70th anniversary of Indian Independence. The displays celebrate Cambridge’s links with Indian culture with examples from the Museum’s world-class holdings of coins and its rarely seen collection of Indian miniature painting.

2017 is the UK-India Year of Culture, a year of events to celebrate UK’s cultural ties with India. The two exhibitions are part of the University of Cambridge Museums’ India Unboxed series, affiliated to the UK/India 2017 programme run by the British Council.

From Kabul to Kolkata: Highlights of Indian painting in the Fitzwilliam Museum, showcases a selection of Indian miniature paintings and drawings from the 16th to 19th centuries. Works produced under the patronage of the Mughal dynasty and other princely rulers are included, as well as several acquired by early British patrons and collectors in India.

Religious epic and myth, history, royal portraiture, animals and birds, music, dance and architecture are all included in the themes of the paintings and drawings on show. A new handsomely illustrated catalogue exploring the themes of the exhibition has been written by Marcus Fraser, Honorary Keeper of Islamic and Indian Manuscripts and Miniatures at the Fitzwilliam Museum.

Elephants, Deities and Ashoka’s Pillar: Coins of India from antiquity to the present explores the history of India through coins produced from the 4th century BC until recent times. Cultural, religious, economic and political developments are richly illustrated by the coins on show. They focus on representative periods of India’s history, ending with a display of banknotes and coins produced since India became independent in 1947.

The exhibitions are accompanied by a full programme of public events, including handling sessions of historic coins, lunchtime talks, art workshops and family events.

The Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Tim Knox said: “The Fitzwilliam Museum has a significant collection of Indian miniature paintings and drawings, the majority unpublished and little known. Many of these exquisite, finely detailed works are going on display for the first time. Our numismatic collections are internationally celebrated – we are delighted to join this important year of Indian culture with some of our finest Indian treasures.”

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