KAVERIPAKKAM – HISTORY AND ART TRADITIONS
by V.N. Srinivasa Desikan
Dr. Vangipuram Navaneetham Srinivasa Desikan (born Jan 1934) hails from a family of scholars of Oppiliappan Sannidhi, near Kumbakonam. He completed B. A. (Hons) degree in Sanskrit (1954) and did post graduate course in History (1956)-both from Annamalai University.Was awarded Ph.D. degree in 1988, by the University of Madras for his thesis “Kaveripakkam”, Its place in the history and art of Tamil Nadu.
After serving as a Curator, Archaeology section, Government Museum, Chennai on a leave vacancy for 3 months in 1956, he joined as exploration assistant in the Archaeological Survey of India, Madras. In 1957 and worked till 1963. During this time, he participated in the excavations conducted by ASI near Madras and at Kaveripattinam (Thanjavur Dt.). He carried out intensive village to village survey of antiquities in Coimbatore District. He explored the Kodumanal site near Erode and brought out its historical importance in the eyes of the world.
He joined the Government Museum, Chennai in mid-1963 as Curator, Archaeology section. He was holding charge of valuable collections such as bronzes, stone sculpture, copper plate grants and decorative arts. His assistance in establishing the District Museum at Madurai, Trichy, Vellore and Erode are noteworthy. He was organised several thematic exhibitions such as: Poet Mahakavi Bharathi, Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy and Prof. K.A. Neelakanta Sastri etc.
He has delivered lectures in batches to the officials of Customs, Central Excise & Revenue Intelligence on the importance of Antiquities and Art Treasures Act,1972.
He also assisted the State Police Department in their investigation of idol theft cases. He is a life member of the Place Names Society of India, Mysore. He has participated in almost all the All India conferences held in different places of India. He has delivered Prof. Balakrishnan Nayar Endowment lecture at the Government Museum on “Select South Indian Folk Bronzes” (2004) and another on “Seppu Thirumenigal” at the fifth Kovilur Adheenam Endowment lecture (2006) at Dharmapuri.
He has published more than twenty-five research papers in various reputed journals such as Lalit Kala (Ancient), Kalakshetra Quarterly, Nunkalai (Traditional) etc.
His publication on Bronze Gallery: A guide, Museum publications in 1972 has seen nearly four reprints. He served as a number of various academic bodies such as: Expert member, Board of studies, Department of Epigraphy and Sculpture of Tamil university. Member Art purchase Committee, Government Museum, Expert Member of the committee for Bronzes of National importance, constituted by the National Museum, New Delhi.
He retired as Assistant Director, Government Museum, Chennai on 31-1-1992 on Superannuation.