sanghol-museum

This is an ancient site of Harrappan culture and is being maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. A tourist complex is also coming up shortly. This site is located on Ludhiana-Chandigarh Road and is in Khamano block of the District.

The present building of the Sanghol Museum was inaugurated on April 10, 1990 as a unit of the Department of Cultural Affairs, Archaeology and Museums of the Government of Punjab.Excavations at Sanghol yielded archaeological treasures of great significance indicating a long history of the cultural heritage of Punjab. These treasures needed to be preserved and displayed at a place for public view and appreciation. With this end in view, the Sanghol Museum was set up by the Government, not only to preserve Punjab’ s Cultural treasures, but also to involve the public in the appreciation of the continuous cultural linkage that the land has maintained from the early ancient times and has witnessed large scale movements and amalgamation of people and their culture.

A vast treasury of about 15000 antiquities has been collected by the department through various archaeological excavations and explorations at Sanghol. It comprises of antiquities of diverse nature like sculptures, terrocottas, pottery, seals, sealings, coins, ivory, carvings, precious stones and other art objects.

The ground floor gallery exhibits the most important items of antiquities other than the stone sculptures. The pride of the Sanghol Museum, the stone sculptures, are displayed in the upper gallery.

The antiquities in the ground floor gallery have been arranged chronologically to highlight the development of socio-cultural and religious facts of the regional manifestations of the heritage of Punjab. Apart from the actual objects, a large number of charts, graphs, photographs, maps, and drawings have been displayed to supplement the viewing of the actual objects. Each of the items is given a label disclosing its identification and chronological placement. The methodology has been as per the latest display techniques followed in museums of the type. At the entry point has been displayed a Master Chart containing a brief history and important details of Sanghol as an archaeological site and of the objects obtained from the place.

The first few showcase preserve specimens of pottery discovered from Sanghol, datable from the Harappan (Bara) culture period (C.2000- B.C. 1200) on the basis of radio-carbon test, through the historical periods of the Mauryas, Sungas, Guptas and Muslim culture. The pottery specimens show diverse workmanship, technique and visual designing envisaged through the use of materials, texture and forms often of primitive and fold dispensations.

Next to pottery, the showcase display seals, sealings, coins and moulds. These are made of baked and unbaked clay, copper, lead, ivory and stone, in respective relevant cases. Occasionally they bear inscriptions in Brahmi or Kharosthi scripts of the first and second centry AD disclosing some names like Dhama, Haridatta etc. A distinctive exhibit displayed is a carved relic casket bearing the Kharosthi inscription of Ist century BC/AD. An interesting seal on display contains the name of the Huna King of fifth century AD this possibly is an evidence of the role that he might have played in the destruction of the Buddhistic establishments at Sanghol, the ruins of which have been discovered in the form of a Stupa and monastic establishment. The exhibits also include beads, terracotta toys, bangles, steatite, metal, glass and ivory objects.

The last show-case in the ground floor gallery contains some sandstone representations of various divinities of Brahmanical and non-Brahmanical pantheons. A stucco head of the Buddha, datable to the fourth century AD. is placed in front of the staircase leading to the upper gallery. This demarcates the phase of antiquities of the ground floor, and serves as a prelude to the treasures displayed upstairs.

In the first floor gallery are displayed the mottled red sandstone sculptures discovered from Sanghol. They verily constitute the glory of the site. These include figures and motifs carved on pillars, railings, coping stones and crossbars of the stupa enclosure discovered at Sanghol.

The most important themes represented are the woman and tree vignittes, mother and child motifs, as also some narrative depictions. There are various permutations and combinations of lotiform designs, rossetes, chaitya window designs and various other vegetal and floral patterns. The motif of the lady holding tree branches is a popular theme noticed here. This is technically known as the Shalabhanjika, meaning the lady breaking the branches of the Sale tree as the metaphor of her fertility potential. Many representations depict voluptuous ladies either holding wine flasks or expressing intoxicated mood. These are the Surasundaris, the divine damsels with bewitching beauty. A lady holding a parrot is depicted to express her sentiments of love for the beloved who has been away. There are some narrative scenes of mythelogical content not yet properly identified. One sculpture represents a woman being carried by an old man on his shoulder. In another exhibit, a woman is squeezing water from her hair after bath. A duck is shown trying to swallow the drops of water mistaking them for peals. Other examples depict sundry women- one playing on an instrument resembling the harmonica, another drinking somarasa from an elongated vessel, while the third is pressing her breast. A freeze perhaps depicts a Buddhist Jataka tale or a narrative concerned with some foreigners.

The sculptures represent the Kushana style of the art of Mathura of the 2nd -3rd Century AD. The historical linkage between the Matura School and Buddhist site of Sanghol has not yet been established. However, these sculptures doubtless are evidence of a high degree of artistic excellence that flourished in this part of India during the early part of the Christian Century. These sculptures have now been acclaimed as superb examples of sculptural expression, and they have been on view at the Festival of India Celebrations in America and other parts of the world.

The art of Punjab is not usually referred to by scholars as a distinctive regional expression in view of the paucity of sufficient materials, to go by the discovery of Sanghol sculptures together with the huge Buddhistic establishment has opened up a new dimension. Punjab now can verily claim a distinctive contributory role in the cultural creativity in the visual arts even during the early centuries of the Christian era. The glory of the artistic participation of Punjab in the main -stream of Indian cultural efforescence is evidenced by the archaeological discoveries of Sanghol.

The Chinese pilgrim Hieun Tsang of the 7th Century AD noticed flourishing Buddhistic establishments at Sanghol. It seems likely that he did see the lingering glory of the artistic achievements of Sanghol, the glimpses of which could still be had by the visitor to the Museum today through the well preserved specimens of the sculptural art.

The collection on display are only of the selected objects. Scholars and keen lovers of art can have an access to the other art objects preserved in the reserve collection. For this they will need taking permission of the appropriate authority.