National Inventory of Tribal Arts Launch

The National Inventory of Tribal Arts, prepared by Prof. G. N. Devy of Bhasha Research and Publication Centre, Baroda, with designers Nikita Desai and Lokesh Khetan, will be launched at the Indira Gandhi National centre for Arts on Saturday, 17 May 2008.

The National Inventory is a part of the much larger project of constructing a National Consortium of Tribal Arts under taken by Prof. Devy and funded by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

On Saturday, the Inventory will be formally presented to Shri Gautam Buddha Mukherji, Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, and Dr. K. K. Chakravarty, Member Secretary of the IGNCA. The Inventory will also be hosted on the website of the IGNCA for universal access. 

Since 1953 the Government of India has established 18 Tribal Research and Training Institutes. Located in different states, these institutes focus on tribal development & research activities. 14 of these institutes also maintain their own ethnographic museums.

Since their inception, these museums have collected a huge amount of data on tribal art and culture along with priceless specimens of craftsmanship from various parts of the country. The 14 Ethnographic Museums along with the Museum of Voice at Tejgadh have a combined collection of nearly 20,000 artifacts like tribal paintings, ornaments, costumes, hunting and agricultural implements, bamboo and wood works, pottery, toys and religious objects. Viewed collectively these artifacts present a unique picture of the diversity and cultural richness of Tribal India. 

To bring together this vast collection, Bhasha Research and Publication Center with the support of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India has initiated the National Consortium of Tribal Arts and Culture.

Once completed, the project will form a network for interaction between the tribal research institutes and various independent researchers in India and abroad. 

The project is divided into 4 components.

At the core is the creation of a National Inventory. This National Inventory will house data of each and every artifact collected by the 15 Tribal museums on a central server. The museums will be able to update their own collection and to view others through a password based system. This inventory will be made available to researchers on request directly to the museums. The NCTAC is in the process of procuring ICOM (International Council of Museums) recommended database software to meet the international standards of accessioning.

The second component will be a National Catalogue that will feature the selected set of objects and will be made available to all the Tribal Museums involved in the project for distribution to visitors. This catalogue will soon be available at all museums participating in the NCTAC project.

The third component is a website of NCTAC, which has been designed with the intention of generating curiosity within a wider national and international audience towards visiting the participating tribal museums where they can fully experience the dynamic displays and see the original artifacts. This website is now online and can be accessed at

The National Inventory, Catalogue and the Website will be the basis for the development of the fourth and final component, the Dynamic Displays. These displays will feature more than 700 artifacts collected from 15 tribal museums all across India and will touch upon the social and religious context of these objects through animated folktales, short films, oral narratives, songs, dances and illustrations. The displays will then be installed in each of the participating museums for the visitors to see. The project hopes that these displays will serve as a window into the lives of different tribal communities of the country and will help bring together many geographically separated traditions of art and culture. It is hoped that the work of establishing these displays will be over by the middle of 2009.

On the 17th of May 2008, NCTAC will be launched in its first print edition of the National Inventory of Adivasi Arts and Culture which is dedicated to the Janjatis of India. This launch will take place at the Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts in New Delhi, following which participants from the TRI museums involved in the project will travel to Keylong, Himachal Pradesh for a workshop on Interactive and Community Museums: Innovative Museology and Digital Technology as part of the NCTAC initiative. 


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