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Priya Paul Collection now in open access format

20. Aug. 2018

The Priya Paul Collection of Popular Art is now available online to the public via the HeidICON image database in an open access format. For the archive, over 4,200 images from Indian contemporary as well as popular art and advertisement were digitalized and catalogued at the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context."

The Priya Paul Collection of Popular Art contains over 4,200 images of Indian popular culture from the late 19th and early 20th century. A large part of the collection consists of old posters, calendars, postcards, commercial advertisements, textile labels, and cinema posters, and the archive is one of the finest of such items in India. In 2008, Priya Paul, a well-known Indian entrepreneur and art connoisseur, opened her collection for digitization to the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context."

In cooperation with Tasveer Ghar: A Digital Network of South Asian Popular Visual Culture, the Cluster "Asia and Europe," the Heidelberg Research Architecture (HRA), the Collaborative Research Centre "Ritual Dynamics" (SFB Ritualdynamik), and the Professorship of Visual and Media Anthropology at the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies (HCTS), digitizing the material. Over 4,200 images and their metadata were uploaded to the HeidICON image database, where they were further annotated by local and international experts. The whole set of metadata was published as open access research data in 2016, providing data in the VRA Core 4 XML format. The project initiative was coordinated by Prof. Christiane Brosius, the professor of Visual and Media Anthropology at the HCTS, Prof. Sumathi Ramaswamy from Duke University, and filmmaker and author Yousuf Saeed from New Delhi; they are the three founders of Tasveer Ghar. They were supported by Matthias Arnold and Eric Decker from the Heidelberg Research Architecture (HRA).

The project aims for better understanding of how images help us to grasp the impact of transcultural flows between Asia and Europe, how they circulate through and constitute different public spheres and how the asymmetric relations that characterize these flows are evolving over time and across space. Several visual essays on Tasveer Ghar have emerged from the Priya Paul Collection.

After access had been restricted to members of Heidelberg University via contact with the project, the whole Priya Paul Collection is now available to the public in HeidICON, where each image can be searched by keywords, and regrouped according to various themes and categories. Without further need to log in, images from the database can now also be embedded in websites and articles through their specific ID.

Visit the collection on HeidIcon.


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  • A lady with a telephone. Textile label, Bombay, around 1930.