We Indians, unlike the Western counterparts might not be enamored by museums but the fact is more than the bigger ones, it is the small ones – collections of individuals which go on to depict the era gone by. It gives one a very micro aspect of the time gone by, while being extremely interesting.
Take this one – in the district of Kheda in Gujarat, the Patels have collected some 3500 locks and they are all on display at their home in Hamirpura. Farmers by profession, they have collected an enviable and very intriguing collection of metal and wooden locks for four generations. The heaviest weighs 41.5 kg and requires eight keys to open. The tiniest at 4 gm, and 1 inch high.
There’s a lock that has a concealed keyhole that is only revealed when you press the right rivet and there are also locks of silver and gold, traditionally used to lock a bride’s dowry box. Another has an inbuilt alarm. Temples locks usually carried motifs of the deity presiding. There is another interesting lock which required 5 keys to open – belonging to a 19th century business family, all five brothers needed to be present with their keys to open the lock; trust was a major playing factor here. Their learning – the best locks in India were made in Rajasthan and Gujarat where traders were growing wealthier.
Now wouldn’t this be a treasure trove of collectibles? Sad that today, we seem to have lost this skill of lock making, with all using the standard Godrej lock. Another lost form of Indian art gone into oblivion….