Museum of memories

Print edition : June 13, 2014

Fifty-two-year old Wazir Chand Saroe, a primary school teacher who took voluntary retirement, was in his teens when he started collecting Harappan artefacts from the mounds near his home in Rakhigarhi village. His son, Khyali Ram Saroe, acquired his passion. The father-son duo has given away more than 90 per cent of their invaluable collection to the Archaeological Survey of India, the National Museum in New Delhi, a private museum at Jhajhar in Haryana and the State government’s museum in Hisar.

Their collection in a small museum on the first floor of their house in the village includes terracotta figurines of a male buffalo, a bull and dogs with outstretched ears, perforated jars, a potter’s knife to make rims on jars, big beads for making garlands for animals, shell and terracotta bangles, chert blades, children’s toys, and so on. Rakhigarhi craftsmen, who belonged to the mature Harappan phase between 2600 B.C. and 2000 B.C., had such an eye for detail that they carefully depicted a perforated collar around the neck of a domesticated animal! The flared nostrils of the figurines of pigs appear almost real..

Other artefacts in the collection are a touchstone, weights made of terracotta and stone, dish-on-stand, beads made of semi-precious stones such as carnelian, faience, lapis lazuli, jasper, agate and steatite, grinding stones, big terracotta plates and a typical large-sized Harappan brick with the footprints of an animal.

Wazir Chand Saroe’s proud possession is a terracotta figurine of a bull whose head is a separate piece that can be fitted into the neck and manipulated with a string. Khyali Ram Saroe told us that they gave away a complete set of gamesmen with 32 pieces to the museum at Hisar. It is during the three to four months of rainy season that the Saroes collect their artefacts. The heavy monsoons expose the artefacts lying under the soil. The villagers also give them the artefacts they find.

The latest addition to their collection is a terracotta figurine of a chital found in mound number two in the last week of April. The father and son have also with them virtually every story published in newspapers, magazines on Rakhigarhi and ASI publications on the site.

T.S. Subramanian

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