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Maxwell School
Maxwell / Moynihan / South Asia Center

Ruth Reeves Memorial Collection of the Folk Art in India



Image of God and Goddess Lakshmi and Narayan on an elephant Dimensions: 22 5/8x13x15 1/8. 67.373 University Art Collection


In mid-1960s, Syracuse University obtained the Ruth Reeves collection of Indian folk arts. Comprised of some 500 items representing the craft traditions of India, this collection is a valuable resource for the study of India's crafts during the late 1950s. Represented are clay, metal, and wood votive and legendary images, jewelry, toys, and household items such as clay and metal utensils.

Objects include clay wall plaques from Molela in Rajasthan, large pottery images from northern Bihar, cire perdue (lost wax) images from Orissa, and clay horses from Tamilnadu, as well as some 60 pieces of jewelry.

Ruth Reeves was a leading American textile designer whose fabrics covered the walls of New York Radio City Music Hall. Chosen as one of the very first Fulbright scholars to India in 1956, she later served on the All-India Handicrafts Board and as handicraft adviser to the Registrar General of India. From 1956 to her death in 1966, she lived in India, studying and collecting its craft traditions.

She authored one of the first books on the cire perdue process as used by Indian craftsman, and included examples of the process in her collection. The collection is accessible to interested scholars, who should contact Syracuse University Art Collections, (315) 443-4097.




Wall plaque of Sanvaro Babo on his horse Terracotta painted silver leaf: 26x19x4. 1966.1010 University Art Collection

Group image (Dikara) of Shiva, Parvati, and their sons Ganesh and Kartikeya Terracotta: 9x5 3/8x5 1/4. 1966.1067 University Art Collection