THE GENESIS OF THE PILAR MUSEUM

  1. THE NEED OF THIS CHAPTER

Many of the artefacts displayed in the Pilar Museum and existing in the Pilar Monastery and around, have so far been described in the pages of this book in relation to the dynasties or periods to which they belonged. However, the Museum has other artefacts that cannot be specifically related to any period or have been donated or acquired in recent times. Hence they are described in this separate chapter. Here is a brief genesis of the museum, or in other words, the answer to the question: How did the Museum originate?

  1. MODEST BIGINNING

In the nineteen forties, a strange incident took place in the Pilar Monastery, as narrated by the late Fr. Francis Sequeira, one of the Re-organizers. There were two colossal wooden statues of St. Peter and St Paul on the ground floor corridor at the side entrance door of the Pilar Monastery Church. Each of them was almost 8 feet tall. In the hand of St Peter there was a thick and heavy brass key about two feet in length hanging from a corroding chain. One morning an old lady went to kiss the statues and in her fervour she not only touched the hands of St Peter, but reached out her hand to the beard and in the process she might have shaken the key. Next, she piously knelt down, closed her eyes and kissed the feet. At this moment, the corroded chain gave way and the key came tumbling down with a loud thud, missing her head by an inch. The lady swooned; the priests had a hard time in reviving her.

At this orders were given by the higher authorities to burn the statues. It took three days to consume them by kerosene and fire. A great treasure of art was lost for posterity.

This incident prompted the members of the Society to start a small Museum in the erstwhile Franciscan chapel of the Chapter, on the ground floor of the Pilar Monastery. Old statues and other curios were exhibited there since 1952.

  1. MORE FINDS

In 1958-59, while levelling a mound near the present Fr. Agnel High School, a cave was discovered accidentally at the foot of the Pilar hillock. The artefacts found in the cave1 are exposed in the Pilar Seminary Museum see Chapter 5, section 7 (B).

In 1958, the hand written copy of Krista Puranna was found in a waste pit soaked in water. (Figure 110).

In 1959, at the time of the re-plastering and renovation of the Sacristy of the Pilar Monastery, the wooden Paintings fixed to its walls were removed, because they looked old and worn out. At that time, no one understood their value. Some of them, dumped here and there, were collected and chemically treated in 1998 and are now adorning the Museum (see figures 78 to 86).

The Kadamba emblem (figure 18) was found in 1964 while laying the foundation of Fr. Agnel High School. More artefacts were found in 1966, while digging the ground for building the Fr. Agnel Higher Secondary School, as described in their respective places in this book.

All these and other finds were collected and just dumped in one of the rooms of the Pilar Seminary. Finally, when the last ex-Governor General, Vassalo e Silva, of the erstwhile Portuguese colonies was invited as a guest by the Indian Government, and was to visit Pilar too, the Society thought of putting up the Museum in the Seminary in 1973. Fr. Aleixo Gracias was commissioned to arrange the artefacts in order in one of the rooms, near Bro Albert’s hall. It was at this time that the author of this book lent a helping hand in this task. After some months this author took full charge of the Museum as its Curator. The artefacts in the old Museum in the Pilar Monastery and those hidden or lying here and there were all slowly collected and added to the Pilar Seminary Museum.

Up to 1979, the Pilar hillock was facing great hardships by February-March every year, as the well supplying water to the houses would go dry and until the commencement of the rains, there was total water shortage. A water reservoir was the pressing need. At this juncture, Bro. Lawrence Fernandes, as Procurator of the Seminary, worked out a plan to de-silt a tank situated within the Pilar compound, (see Introduction Figure 1 b) on the Neura Road. About 5 meters of silt and debris were removed from the tank. As the work progressed, some of the artefacts of the Pre-Portuguese era, were found at various layers and mostly at the bottom of the tank, as described in this book, in each place. The tank has very strong springs and as soon as the little water remaining in the tank in the month of May was pumped out, immediately new spring water gushed in. So every year, the little debris and silt, remaining in the tank in May, was removed and as the work progressed, new artefacts were unearthed till 1997.

  1. MORE SPACE AND STUDIES

A small room was no longer sufficient for exposing all these artefacts. On the advice given by Rev Dr. Max Gonsalves, specialized in Sacred Scripture, the Curator made a petition to the Society to provide larger and permanent premises for the Museum. Fr. Norman Almeida, the then Rector of the Seminary and his Council too resolved to provide better premises for it. The then Superior General, Very Rev, Fr. Tiburcio Ferrao and his Council granted the request in 1995. Fr. Max Gonsalves gave the ideas of arranging the podiums for the artefacts. Bro. Eusebio Miranda, Fr.Anacleto Fernandes, Fr. Valente Azavedo and the Reorganizer, late Fr. Francis Sequeira allowed the Curator to collect more artefacts from the Pilar Monastery and to take them to the Museum. Most of these artefacts have already been described and others will be described in the subsequent pages of this book.

With the help and advice of experts and Archaeologists, especially Shri K. K. Mohamad, presently the Superintending Archaeologist- Delhi, Shri J. V. P. Rao the then Deputy Superintending Archaeologist, Goa Circle, Dr. Nanda Kumar Kamat, Professor of Goa University, Dr. Pratima Kamat, Head of History department of Goa University, Shri S. K. Gaur and P. Gudigar of Marine Archaeology of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), the study on pottery made by Ms. Alita D’Sousa at Deccan College, the IIRNS – Nashik, Mr Fenelon Rebello expert in Portuguese coins and other experts, the artefacts have been identified and classified by the Curator as shown in this book, under different Chapters.

The Pilar Society wholly owns the Pilar Seminary Museum. Under the Scheme for promotion and strengthening of Local / Regional / Private Museums: it has been recognized by the Department of Culture, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, New Delhi (vide their letter No. F29-3/98-M1 dated 9.3.1998). It has also been recognized by Goa Government (vide Ram Krishna Davalikar, Minister of Museums, Intervention in Goa Assembly, Museums in Goa, cf. Lusofonia – Goa, 28-08-2001, p 8 Col 3). The Directorate of Museums, Government of Goa by their letter No. 1/208/2011/DM-194 dated 25/04/2017 have selected the Pilar Seminary Museum for the one time scheme of Financial Assistance to Private Museums. The Society and the Curator hereby wish to express their sincere gratitude to both the Central and Local Government Departments for their generous assistance, especially Ms. Radha R. Bhave, Director of Goa State Museum; Ms. Blossom Medeira, Director of Goa Archives and Archaeology and Goa Cabinet Minister, Shri Vijay Sardessai and others.

  1. STATUES
  2. MARBLE WOOD STATUES

Probably belonging to a family oratory, these damaged statues were found dumped in a trunk in the corner of an old private house in the village of Mandur.

They were donated by the present occupants of the house, thanks the good offices of their daughter Ms. Ureta Rodrigues in 1998.

The statues may have been carved in the late 17th or early 18th century, from white teak, popularly called ‘marble wood’. Starting from left, clock-wise they represent the following icons:

Figure 133 – Marble wood Statues

St, Basil, the Great – Cappadocian Father

St Rock,

Face of an Angel

Image of Jesus Crucified (no hands, no Cross)

Mary, the Mother of Jesus (Child Jesus in her hands: has no head and no hands)

Faces of 3 Angels

  1. ST. THOMAS

This is a seventeenth century statue of St Thomas, the Apostle of India. He was pierced with a lance in Mylapore in South India while praying in a cave on the Little Mount

(Chinna Malai) and died a martyr in 72 AD. (See Chapter 3, Section 3) and

  1. ST. THRESE OF LISIEUX

St Therese, the author of the “Autobiography of the Soul”, is a saint of modern times. She was a Carmelite who joined at the age of 16, and rose to heights of contemplation, became the Novice Mistress and suffered patiently the cruciating pains of arthritis, and died at the young age of 24. She was canonized in 1925. She was declared Co-Patroness of the Missions with St. Francis Xavier in 1927 because “through her sufferings and prayers she had saved as many souls as St Francis Xavier did by his missionary toils”. St Pope John Paul II declared St Therese ‘Doctor of the Church’, the youngest person, to merit the title. The life size statue in figure 135 was made by a Goan Hindu artist in 1943.

Figure 134 St. Thomas Figure 135 – St Therese

  1. . FRANCIS XAVIER AND ST ANTHONY

These two wooden statues with ivory head and hands were offered to the Pilar Museum by late Eddie Nazareth from Moira.

  1. PAINTINGS
  1. MOGHUL MADONNA

beautiful picture in a brass metal frame, displayed in the Pilar Museum, depicts a copy of a miniature painting from a Moghul Palace dated to 1675-1700. It represents Mary, the Mother of Jesus, in a Muslim royal dress like

Figure 136 – St Francis Xavier & St Anthony

Moghul Ladies in Indian style, with the Christ Child surrounded by Angels and Shepherds. (Figure 137a). Its original is one of the treasures of the Moghul Palaces, appropriated by the British colonial masters and taken to the U.K. At X’mas 2012, a postage stamp was released by the British Post Office depicting a part of this painting.

Figure 137(b) British Postage stamp

Fiigure137 (a) – Moghul Madonna

  1. MARY AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS

This is the picture of a painting in Indian Art worked by Angelo da Fonseca depicting, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Our Lady of Sorrows, standing at the foot of the Cross, while Her Crucified Son is dying on it.

  1. ST. JOSEPH VAZ

Born in Benaulim, Goa in 1651, Joseph Vaz of Sancoale, Goa was the greatest missionary Asia produced. Joseph Vaz was ordained in 1676 and worked for four years in Kanara Mangalore) in very trying circumstances. Then he organized the first Asian Missionary Institute – the Oratorian Congregation of Goa – and in the face of a severe persecution of Catholics by the Dutch, he entered Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in the guise of a coolie (labourer) in 1686.

Figure 138 – Mary at the foot of the Cross

The Dutch were Huguenots (Calvinists/ Protestants), hostile to the Catholic Church. Fr. Joseph Vaz was hunted down by his enemies in Jaffna, in the north, and so fled to the Kingdom of Kandy. There he was falsely denounced by another Huguenot

As a Portuguese spy and suffered imprisonment at the hands of the King of Kandy, Vimaladharma Surya, for over two and half years. However, the King, on seeing his virtuous life, set him free. With the weapon of prayer, Joseph Vaz succeeded in obtaining abundant rains in the drought-stricken land and thus won the sympathy of this Buddhist King who allowed him to bring more Oratorian missionaries from Goa.

During a severe small-pox plague lasting a full year, Fr. Joseph Vaz and his companions, ministered selflessly to the destitute people of Kandy, be they Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims or Christians, irrespective of their creed, caste or sex, while everyone, including the King ran away, leaving the plague stricken to themselves. When the King returned, he was all praises for Joseph Vaz and is reported to have said: “Had it not been for Fr. Vaz, the Sovereign of Kandy would scarce have had a subject left in his capital. Would that four more priests of such charity were in the kingdom!” Since then, the King became his great protector. Fr. Vaz thus saved the Church from extinction too. He died in Kandy in 1711 after having served with dedication and love the Church of Sri Lanka for 24 years.

This picture (Figure 139), in the Pilar Museum, is a copy of an old painting of the Saint found in Kandy. The brass metal frames shown in figures 137d and 139 are old ones, used for these pictures in the Museum from discarded “Sacras” (see figure 141a).

Figure 139 – St Joseph Vaz

In spite of his heroic life and virtues, it took almost 280 years to clear the processes of beatification of Fr. Joseph Vaz, because of negligence on the part of European ecclesiastical authorities then at the helm of the Padroado. Finally, Fr. Vaz’s letters, reports of his work written by his contemporaries, other writings concerning his life, – found scattered in Goa, Sri Lanka, Portugal, Rome, Holland and even in the British Museum – were all gathered, compiled and translated into Italian and presented to the Sacred Congregation of Saints in 1985, in a dossier of 1166 pages. Deep studies were undertaken of all these writings by the Cardinals, Bishops, and theologians of the Congregation and this historical process of writings was approved by the Pope in a meeting of all concerned on 13-5-1989.

Finally, a miracle worked by the Saint, was required to be proved, as per the Canon laws, in force. The birth of the author of this book was accepted by the Sacred Congregation of the Saints in Rome and the Pope as the proved required miracle, and on the basis of it, Joseph Vaz was beatified in Colombo on 21-1-1995 by Pope St. John Paul II. This author was born in 1938 after constant haemorrhages of his mother from the fourth month of her pregnancy. He was born by the leg in the seventh month due to ‘Placeta Previa’ only one kilo and hundred grams in weight. According to expert medical opinion neither the mother nor the child were supposed to live. But both survived due to constant recourse to prayer, right from the conception, by the mother to God, through the intercession of Fr. Joseph Vaz. The author, moreover, was saved without incubators. He, who could have been lame, dumb, deaf or blind, grew up normal and became a priest in the Pilar Society. The mother too lived a long life. She died 4 years after the beatification, at the age of 94, in 1999.

For Canonization, the requirement of another proved miracle was waived by the Pope with the consent of the Sacred Congregation of Saints, and Pope Francis declared Joseph Vaz a Saint during his pastoral visit to Sri Lanka, in Colombo on 14-1-2015. With the canonization, St Joseph Vaz is the first Goan to reach the honours of the Altar and is entitled to be venerated in the Church all over the world. Christianity adores only one God. Catholics only venerate the saints as models (examples) of heroic virtues to be imitated and emulated.

  1. METAL ARTEFACTS

Some metal artefacts too adorn the Museum. They were collected from the Pilar Monastery.

  1. HANGING THURIBLES AND LAMPSTANDS

The first three artefacts shown below – in figures 140 a, b and c – are three thuribles (probably used by Capuchins, Carmelites and old Pilar Society, respectively); figure 140 d is an incense container, which accompanies the thuribles. Figures e, f, g and h show four metal and glass hanging Lampstands.

All these items are the ornaments used Figure 140 (a) Figure 140 (b) Figure 140 (c) in Churches for liturgical functions

and to show respect to the Blessed Sacrament.

Fiigure 140 (d)

The last item in figure h shown alongside, however, was also used at nights in private homes to illuminate the house. The wick of the lamp was fed with kerosene.

Figure 140 (e) Figure 140 (f) Figure 140 (g)

This item in figure 140 h was one of the items in a house in Moira, bequeathed to the Society by the late Mrs. Maria Guilhermina de Souza and her sister, Herminia F. de Souza.

  1. “SACRAS”

When the Holy Sacrifice of Mass was celebrated in the Tridentine style, in Latin, a Catholic priest used to stand at the altar with his back to the People. At that time, on the altar table, the three Latin ‘Sacras’ were meant to help the priest at the offertory, consecration and the

Last Gospel (which is no longer recited).

Figure 140 (h)

With the reform of the liturgy after Vatican II, the Mass began to be celebrated facing the people and so these Sacras have been discarded. Figure 141a shows a set of these ‘Sacras’ in beautiful metal frames.

Similar frames of discarded “Sacras” have been made use

of, for the items shown in figures 137 a and 139 above.

Figure 141 (a) The “Sacras”

  1. TIBETAN BUDDHA AND BELL

Some Tibetan Refugees, when they came to stay in Goa, started selling Tibetan artefacts in the Panjim market. The late Mr. C. N. D’Sa and his family purchased the brass Buddha seated in meditation under the Bodhi tree of enlightenment and a bronze bell from the Tibetans and presented them to the Pilar Museum.

Maybe the granite stone Pedestal found in Pilar with a mutilated Buddha statue on it, and described in figure 29 b was more or less like this one.

Figure 141 (b) – Brass Buddha and bronze Buddhist Tibetan Bell

  1. SILVER SPOONS

The silver spoons and forks are a gift to the Pilar Seminary by the family of the late Mr. A. X D’Gama from Carona, Aldona. Only one set is shown in figure 142.

  1. OTHER ARTEFACTS
  2. LAST SACRAMENTS BOX

This box in figure 143 was used to carry the Last Sacraments to the sick and dying. Inside it has compartments to keep the oils in small silver containers.

Figure 142 – Silver spoons

Figure 143(a) – Last Sacraments Box

  1. CHAIR AND CUPBOARD The Chair in figure 143b is made of teak wood inlaid with small ivory crosses and leaves and the Cupboard with big glass doors in figure 143c were gifted to the Seminary, by, the late Mrs. Lucia Vaz Figure 143 (b) – Chair inlaid with ivory Figure 143 (c) – Cupboard

E Lima, a benefactor of the Society from Loutolim.

C) BOXES TO STORE FAMILY GOLD

These two boxes were used to store family gold. One has Compartments with minutely carved thin layers of ivory on each

Figure 144 – Box with ivory compartments Figure 145 – Box with Tortoise shell compartments

Compartment shutter (figure 144); and the other has identical Compartments with thin layers of tortoise shell (figure 145).

  1. MARBLE BOX

This box is made fully of marble by using different coloured pieces of Indian marbles to make floral designs (figure 146). It was brought from North India by the late Fr. Filomeno D’Costa, a renowned educationist and member of the Pilar Society, when he was Headmaster of Fr. Agnel Hr. Secondary School, Pilar.

  1. WRITINGS

There are a few artefacts in the Pilar Museum of paintings and writings on leaves or ancient paper.

Figure 146 – Marble Box

  1. EGYPTIAN PAPYRUS PAINTING

A replica of ancient Near East mythological texts worked out on a present day Papyrus, an ancient Egyptian paper processed by drying and twining reeds grown on the banks of River Nile, depicts Pharaoh Ikhnaton and his wife Nefretiti, fondling their children. The girls are with the mother, while the father kisses the boy. Hieroglyphic writing around the Egptian Sun-god Aton is seen as it spreads its rays around, between husband and wife. This Papyrus was brought from the Middle East by Rev Dr Max Gonsalves and offered to the Museum.

QUMRAM finds of Dead Sea Scrolls are also exposed in the Museum.

Figure 147 – Egyptian Papyrus Painting.

  1. MANUSCRIPT ON LEAVES

There is also a manuscript of medical prescriptions from Kerala, in Tamil, written in Malayalam, on leaves of a bush that abounds on the sea shores and beaches, on the West Coast of India, including Kerala and Goa. It was offered to the Museum by a Manbai family from

Figure 148 (a) – Medical chest on leaves, written in Malayalam, the wording being in Tamil

Kerala. It is a chest of medical prescriptions, used by local Vaidhyas (Doctors/ Medical practitioners).Late Fr. M. T. Anthony, a member of the Society of Pilar belonged to that family and brought it to the Museum.

  1. GOY KANNADA RECORDS

Xerox copies of some important records of village Communidade (community) meetings of the 16th and 17th centuries, written in Konkani language using Goy Kannada and Hal Kannada scripts, and corresponding alphabet are exposed in the Museum.

The originals are in the Goa Government Archives in.Panjim. We give herewith, two specimen copies of such records:

The first is a specimen of the Halkannadi or Goy Kannadi script in which the Original records of Aldona Communidade meetings were written and signed as in figure 148b.

In this record dated 15/1/1605, some of the 12 “vangodd” have put their signatures in Roman script, sometimes abbreviated: e.g. names of Sebastiao da Costa, Lco. Ferrao, Bernardino

d’Azdo, are legible. The other signatories who signed in the Goy Kannadi script are:Mahal Naik, Ram Prabhu, Gopal Sethi, Fati Naik, Mahal Sethi, Paunne Prabhu, Vithu Sethi, Prukhe Kamat and Anant Kamat. All these signatures are seen in the lower part of the document.

The second is an identical record of Goalim-Moula Communidade (figure 148c). Goalim Moula as mentioned in previous Chapters, was formerly part of the city of Govapuri.

The meeting was held on 12-10- 1571, wherein a resolution is taken regarding the lease of a betel-nut plantation of the village.

Figure 148(b) – Goy Kannada record of Aldona Communidade

The language is Konkani written in Goy Kannada and signed by ten members (vangodd) of the said Communidade.

Some of these records and names were deciphered by Shri Gajanan Ghantkar, who was the Curator of the Goa Archives in 1953.

Figure 148(c) – Goy Kannada record of Goalim Moula

D) UNDECIPHERED OBJECTS

(i) POTTERY – A strange pottery item was found by the late C. N D’Sa and family while deepening an old well in their property, in Verem, Bardez.

Some archaeologists were consulted. But there is no agreement as to what this pottery item could mean. One local person said that such items were used in the locality by rich parents, in olden times, on the occasion of their daughter’s wedding

Figure 148(d) – Gold Container?

when she left her home. The parents would present as much gold as this container could hold. The bride would take it to her new home and break it to remove the gold that had been as her family’s blessing to her. Any other opinion about it?

(ii) WOODEN DEITY? – When the Seminary students went on an outing to a hillock in Canaguinim, Canacona, in 2006, they happened to enter a deep cave. They suddenly came across a wooden artefact covered with dry leaves and mud, and in a state of decay. They brought it down and asked the local people around what it could mean. No one could explain and no one claimed it. It was then cleaned with chemicals by experts working in the conservation of statues during the restoration works of Santana Church. The scientists said that the wood could be around 450 to 300 years old. Archaeologists when consulted also could not agree; some said that it could be a local deity; not Trimurthi, as the main middle face and its head gear do not seem to be Shiva’s. One doubted if it could be a Buddhist representation. Another said that it could be some sage surrounded by two other sages with long beards. The internet shows a similar picture of the Hindu deity Brahma, but there are differences:

Figure 148(e) – Local deity?

It has four hands, whereas ours has only two; the middle figure has a beard and looks older like the other two, whereas ours has no beard and the face looks younger. All three have crowns, whereas in ours only the middle one has a headgear. Other images show four heads. The internet image is reproduced here.

Any other opinion?

1 Gritli von Mitter Walner, op. cit. pp 504-511