The Ever Living Museum at Mawshbuit, around 9km from Shillong, is a living testimony of one’s love for nature, culture, tradition, history and posterity. The Museum owned and operated by retired Meghalaya government engineer Kyntiewbor War.
It has three components — the main museum, stone museum and a garden of wild orchids, wild flowers and wild fruits. As one enters the 50,000 square feet compound where the museums are located, one feels at peace with nature in all its manifestation.
The museum is set in a garden surrounded by tress of pears, plums and other wild fruits. The garden has some 100 varieties of orchids and wild flowers and around 25 varieties of ferns. Trees of wild fruits are also meant to woo frequent visitors. Wild flowers, especially Tiew doh maw lai phew na ar jingmut (a stone-kissing flower with 28 minds), Tiew Ja Nailar, which indicates the autumn season, lady’s slippers of four varieties and a motley of others are grown.
The main museum, which is made of concrete, houses “weapons”, both ancient and contemporary, used by the tribes of Meghalaya. Besides, there is the joyous scope to discover musical instruments, which include drums, gongs, pipes, bamboo and iron mouth organs, concertina (a small accordion of yesteryears), and other string and bamboo instruments of Meghalaya. Among the household items are earthen jars of the Garo tribe to ferment beer, earthen jars of the Khasi people for keeping rice, water, fermenting beer and fishes, not forgetting the one-metre diameter pot of more than 100 years for fermenting betel nuts.There are also cast iron kettles, curry-making pots and pressure cookers of yesteryears, brass pots for cooking rice, copper pots for cooking and for keeping silver coins, dried gourd for keeping water, which are also used in performing religious rites, and bamboo containers for carrying drinking water.
In the handicrafts section, there are miniature baskets, fish traps and sieves, all made of bamboo, miniature tree huts of the Garo tribe and bamboo huts of the Khasi tribe. The museum also houses the ancient dresses and jewellery of the Khasi, Garo and Rabha tribes of Meghalaya. There are Indian and foreign coins and currency notes as well, dating back to several years. Close to the main museum is the stone museum where 30 types of stones collected from across Meghalaya and elsewhere are housed which includes stone-age tools, sand-weathering rocks, granite and flint stones, the exhibits include sea shells, natural magnets, iron ore and copper ore. Gemstones such as blue topaz and quartz, crystals and amber find space too.
Equally impressive is the collection of ammonite fossils that include snake and plant fossils. Other items are stalactites and stalagmites with cave pearls, which are found in Meghalaya, wood fossils of Meghalaya, corals of India, and Mawkhan or religious stone of the Khasi tribe.