The Republic of India is a country in South Asia. It is the second most populous country, with a population in excess of 1.2 billion people, but only the seventh-largest country by area. Part of India lies along the Fertile Crescent—the area where the first human civilizations have been discovered as far back as 7600 BCE.
Today, India is a diverse landscape with mountains to the north, deserts below and tropical and subtropical regions. It is one of the 17 most biodiverse countries in the world, with 13.7% of all avian species present, among others.
India has one of the longest-standing cultures, with a cultural history spanning 4,500 years. The MIC’s collection of traditional Indian artwork, jewelry, and clothing demonstrates to our visitors the true diversity of the Indian culture.
In addition, the MIC showcases a section devoted to Afghanistan. Although many Americans automatically associate the country with violence and turmoil, Afghanistan has a history that spans back thousands of years. With our exhibit, we seek to capture the creative genius of Afghans, a people who are known for complex artistic designs and world-class craftsmanship, especially in the field of jewelry.
The MIC is currently looking to expand this section so that it includes the South Asian countries of Pakistan and Sri Lanka. By displaying artifacts from all corners of the Subcontinent, we hope to allow the objects to speak for themselves about the incredible accomplishments of South Asian civilizations.
One of the most distinctive pieces of Indian clothing is the sari, a long garment about 4 to 9 yards long, that is worn wrapped around the waist and drapped over one shoulder, leaving the midriff bared. They are widely considered a symbol of grace and wealth, and the fabric is typically quite decorative.
The Museum of International Cultures has examples of the sari so that viewers can see this element of Indian culture.
Indian jewelry has a distinctive style and many different ritual and celebratory purposes. The traditional wedding jewelry of the Indian people can very elaborate and decorative. One distinctive element of Indian jewelry is the nose piercing, which is a longstanding element of Indian culture.
Although there is an element of fashion to the nose piercing, this is not the only reason that Indian people pierce their noses. This form of jewelry has significance in Hindu culture. Typically, Hindu women pierce their left nostril, which is associated with childbirth and was originally meant to make childbirth easier. These piercings, which are typically done at around the age of 16, the marriageable age, can also be dedicated to the goddess of marriage, Parvathi.
The Museum of International Cultures has examples of Indian jewelry so that viewers can educate themselves about this aspect of Indian culture.