PASSAGGIO IN INDIA
SUONI COLORI ATMOSFERE D’ORIENTE
MUSEO ETNOLOGIA ED ANTROPOLOGIA
The Indian Museum was founded by Angelo De Gubernatis, professor of Sanskrit at the Institute of Higher Studies of Florence, on his return from the trip to India in 1886.
Photo courtesy of
Andrea Mordacci and Museo Indiano of Florence
” A me giovinetto l’India era apparsa come un remoto, misterioso paese di meraviglie, di giganti e di fate. Tutte le magìe mi tentavano ad essa, ed ammirai presto i nostri intrepidi viaggiatori, i quali, prima che l’Africa fosse girata dalle navi portoghesi, per la via disastrosa e lunga di terra, l’avevano visitata e percorsa, recandone fra noi mirabili novelle. Le fiabe popolari e le favole del La Fontaine, che aveva già letto Bidpai, me ne recarono, col Milione di Marco Polo, il primo profumo. Più tardi, provai una specie di nuovo fascino, come per un arcano sentimento di famiglia, che mi richiamò all’India. Oltre la casa ritornai, con oltre seicento pregevoli manoscritti, e con un Museo indiano. “
Angelo De Gubernatis
On his return from India, De Gubernatis published a splendid account of the journey in three volumes entitled Wanderings Indian.
The Institute of Higher Studies offered him two rooms where to place his museum, which was inaugurated solemny the November 14, 1886, in the presence of King Umberto and Queen Margherita.
The wind of Orientalism in Florence was destined, however, to lose strength, and when in 1890 the De Gubernatis was called to Rome to teach Sanskrit, the museum was orphaned of its founder.
The fate of the Indian Museum from that moment became interwoven with that of the National Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology of Paolo Mantegazza, established in 1869 in Florence too.
Mantegazza had undertaken in 1881-82, also a trip to India, although to carry out investigations of different nature compared to De Gubernatis.
As a doctor and anthropologist, Mantegazza wanted to study peoples “endangered” and then visited the Toda Nilghiri Mountains in southern India and Lepcha in Sikkim.
He also picked up a small collection of ethnographic Hindus material .
In 1892 he decided to transfer all his Indian objects in the catalog of the Indian Museum, and annexed the latter to the Museum of Anthropology, where he was director.
President of the Indian Museum remained ,with a purely honorary title, the De Gubernatis, settled in Rome.
Even today, the Indian side is
“a museum within a museum”,
with a catalog different from that of the Ethnographic and Anthropology Museum (today a section of the Natural History of Florence).