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Photo of Prof Jonathan Saha, Dr Radha Kapuria, and Dr Chris Bahl

Massive congratulations to Professor Jonathan Saha, Dr Radha Kapuria, and Dr Chris Bahl for winning the Durham University's Global Curriculum Award 2024.

On March 1st, 2024, Professor Jonathan Saha, Dr Radha Kapuria, and Dr Christopher Bahl accepted the University's Global Curriculum Award 2024 for their new first year Undergraduate module “South Asia: text-artefacts-empires”. 

Caption: Photo the award and trophy

The module is the result of hugely successful collaboration between the Department of History, the Archives and Special Collections team at Palace Green and the Oriental Museum. Consequently, this award is also shared with Oriental Museum curators Dr Rachel Barclay and Dr Gillian Ramsay, and with Dr Danielle Westerhof of the Library's Special Collections. The module explores diverse pasts through Durham University’s rich and unique collections of artefacts, books and manuscripts, providing a tangible introduction to this multi-faith and multi-cultural region for our first-year students.


Caption: Dr Gillian Ramsay and Dr Rachel Barclay introducing first-year students to some of the artefacts used in this module. 


Delivered jointly by academic and Professional Services Staff, students on this module have had the chance to get hands-on with a range of primary sources and artefacts from across South and the wider Indian Ocean that are contained within the archives at Palace Green Library and Oriental Museum. Some of the artefacts that were examined include: 


1. Item: Oriental Museum Accession Number DUROM. 1963.51.

Description: A gilt copper seated Buddha in 'earth-touching' posture on a stand. A turquoise inlay has been used for a special mark between the eyebrows. The Buddha is wearing an elaborate tiered crown with wings attached. The feet are in the padmasana (or interlocking lotus) position. The right hand is in the bhumiparsa (or earth-touching mudra) position while the left hand rests upwards on his lap. The Buddha is seated on an integral waisted pedestal on a hourglass shaped lotus throne. 


2. Item: OM Accession Number DUROM. 1980.4.c

Description: The third in a set of four miniature ivory plaques painted in the Qajar style. The plaque depicts two men, one crouched smoking a hookah pipe, the other stands with a Sufi begging bowl under his arm. The plaque in the 19th Century Qajar style from Iran. It resonates with themes of migration, Sufis, and other Persian Intellectuals to South Asia.


3. Item: OM Accession Number DUROM. 1974.89.

Description: Devi as Durga, India, Punjab, 18th Century CE. Devi is the Great Goddess or Mother Goddess and can be quiet and nurturing. Here, however, she appears in the form of the Durga, created from the combined energies of the angry deities. She has slain the demon Mahisha in the buffalo form and is accompanied by her lion, Vahana (mount or symbol).