Padma Shri Babulal Dahiya’s museum is a treasure trove of indigenous farming tools

With the advent of modern farming techniques, advanced equipment and heavy machinery is making inroads in rural India. However, a renowned farmer in Madhya Pradesh’s Satna is doing everything in his capacity to maintain and thrive his museum of obsolete farm tools which are now hard to find in the country's rural hinterland. The museum is a sanctuary to 250 such tools made of metal, wood, bamboo, stone and leather. Details here.

SACHIN TULSA TRIPATHISACHIN TULSA TRIPATHI   21 Jan 2023 7:09 AM GMT

Padma Shri Babulal Dahiya’s museum is a treasure trove of indigenous farming tools

The agricultural conservator stated that in the olden times, all sorts of skilled workers like carpenters, blacksmiths, idol makers, tanners, potters, bamboo artists and women — they were all a vital part of the agrarian ecosystem. All photos by Sachin Tulsa Tripathi 

Satna, Madhya Pradesh

The desire to preserve what is dated after visiting the museums in Rajasthan and Hyderabad inspired Babulal Dahiya to such a degree that he came back home with an aspiration — to set up a museum of age-old farming tools which are seldom used in agriculture now.

For those acquainted with eminent personalities in Indian agriculture, Babulal Dahiya needs no introduction. The farmer from Madhya Pradesh’s Satna district is known for championing the cause of organic farming and conservation. These achievements have earned him the Padma Shri —the fourth highest civilian award in the country. Dahiya’s museum today adorns his achievements as a proud custodian of India’s agrarian heritage.

Also Read: Ajgar lauki, tanpura lauki and sui-dhaaga: How a 64-year-old farmer is preserving desi seeds for posterity

“It was those visits to Rajasthan and Hyderabad when I was intrigued by a sense of history. The weapons, the swords, the shields and what not… It instilled a desire in me. The desire to preserve the history of agriculture of my region. The only way I could think of doing it was by setting up a museum of farm tools which are either facing neglect in the modern times or are completely forgotten,” Dahiya told Gaon Connection.

The museum, which was recently inaugurated on January 15, provides sanctuary to 250 tools which were once widely used by the farmers in the Baghelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh. These tools are made of diverse materials like stone, metals, alloys, bamboo, wood and leather.

Dahiya’s museum is situated in Satna district’s Pithorabad of which he is also a denizen. The museum is at a distance of 15 kilometres from the district headquarters.

“I am doing this to narrate our agrarian history to the coming generations who otherwise might not even get a chance to see what tools their ancestors used to grow food,” he said.

The agricultural conservator stated that in the olden times, all sorts of skilled workers like carpenters, blacksmiths, idol makers, tanners, potters, bamboo artists and women — they were all a vital part of the agrarian ecosystem.

Babulal Dahiya informed that the funds needed to set up the three roomed museum were utilised from the revenue raised by selling books that he authored on issues pertaining to agriculture.

“My museum contains all the tools and equipment made by these artisans. There are 50 tools each made by blacksmiths and carpenters in my museum. There are another 14-15 tools made by idol shapers along with 30-32 tools by potters, 20 tools by bamboo artists, 7-8 by tanners, and another 7-8 by women,” the 80-year-old said.

Also Read: A library for rice with grains from the past

Locks & swords from the British era

The museum set up by Dahiya also houses locks and swords from which date back to British rule. There are also weights [used for weighing items such as grains] which are more than 200 years old.

“The weight weighs one ser [1.25 kilogrammes]. The locks in the museum are ancient and are made by blacksmiths. Nowadays, the companies make locks but ancient locks were a piece of craft practised by ancient locksmiths. The sword that I have belongs to freedom fighter Ranmat Singh and was gifted to me by a dear friend named Arun Payaasi.

The farmer from Madhya Pradesh’s Satna district is known for championing the cause of organic farming and conservation efforts.

Dahiya informed that the funds needed to set up the three roomed museum were utilised from the revenue raised by selling books that he authored on issues pertaining to agriculture.

Also Read: My aim is to preserve our tradition for the next generation’

“However, these three rooms are not enough to maintain such a museum. I am working to expand the size of my museum,” he told Gaon Connection.

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