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Friday, January 28th, 2022

'Poubi Lai-The Story of a Giant Python' Single object exhibition begins at National Museum

Poubi Lai-The Story of a Giant PythonINVC NEWS New Delhi, 'Poubi Lai-The Story of a Giant Python' Single object exhibition mounted by Indira Gandhi Manav Sanghralaya (IGRMS), Bhopal in collaboration with National Museum, was inaugurated by the Additional Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Shri K.K. Mittal at National Museum in New Delhi today. Director General of National Museum, Sh Sanjeev Mittal and Director of IGRMS Prof. Sarit Kumar Chaudhuri were also present on the occasion.

The fascinating slice of folklore from the country’s Northeast will find depiction in the national capital for next 42 days, as the pioneering sculpture of Manipur’s Poubi Lai, a mythical reptile has been put up in National Museum (NM) for temporary exhibition. The major wooden artwork is only 12 years old but has earned a special place in the history of beliefs related to the ‘horned python’ that is integral to the age-old tradition of hilly Kangleipak region’s Meitei—an ethnic group who speak a Sino-Tibetan language. Shri K.K. Mittal said that in the recent past, the Government has been placing an emphasis on promoting the cultural heritage of the North East. With this exhibition, both IGRMS and National Museum have taken a step forward to support this cultural awareness in Delhi. Conceived and chiseled by (late) wood-carver Karam Dineshwar Singh, who was one of the successors of the royal family-associated Karigar craftspeople, the 21-foot-long artwork found expression in 2002 from a dream he had of Poubi Lai one night. Completed in six months, the sculpture had its inaugural exhibition the same year at Manipur State Museum in the state capital of Imphal. Art historians note that this sculpture was first of its kind that drew attention of a large audience to console themselves with the live presentations of Poubi Lai about which they have ever heard only in stories. The work has travelled to France for an exhibition. According to a Meitei belief, godly king Nongda Lairen Pakhangba lived as a human being at night—and could also transform himself into a divine snake called Paphal. Details of such spiritual prowess are available in ‘Paphal Lambuba’—an illustrated manuscript that contains 364 diagrammatic representations of Pakhangba. These assumptions are attributed as Umang Lai, the controlling deity. Till date, ‘Paphal’ finds place as the divine form of the ruling deity, occupying a significant slot in the socio-religious and political structure of Meitei society.

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