Decorative collar, 1927
Silver sequins, glass beads, padded silk forms and tassels, fine twisted and coiled wire lengths, embroidery
Presented to the Commonwealth of Australia by the Indian Empire, 1927
Gifts Collection, Parliament House Art Collection
This decorative garland was presented in 1927 to then Prime Minister Stanley Melbourne Bruce by Dewan Bahadur T. Rangachariar (c.1865–1945). Rangachariar was the Deputy-President of the Indian Central Assembly, and represented the Government of India at the opening of the Parliament House in Canberra. After the official opening on 9 May 1927, representatives from dominions of the British Empire were invited to speak. Rangachariar presented beaded and embroidered garlands to the Duke (later King George VI) and Duchess of York and the Prime Minister.
This garland presented to Prime Minister Bruce features inscriptions expressing India’s friendship and the bonds of Empire, and its presentation was accompanied by the reading of a Sanskrit poem that Rangachariar had written for the occasion entitled ‘India’s Message to Australia’. The poem offered formal greetings and reiterated the bonds formed between Australia and India during the First World War. At its conclusion, he explained to the gathering the meaning of each of the twenty two stanzas in detail.
Events surrounding the Opening were reported extensively, and in traditional Indian dress, Rangachariar was a conspicuous figure. The Sydney Morning Herald gave his entrance to the Senate chamber special mention with the headline ‘Picturesque Indian Representative’. The garlands were also mentioned—although slight creative license may have been taken with numerous news reports describing the garlands as being woven of solid gold, and studded with large diamonds.