Sulabh International Museum traces 4,500-year history of toilets all over the world


We know that museums preserve culture and heritage of the bygone times. Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, probably the only museum of toilets, traces the history of toilets up to 4500 years. Interestingly, the museum carries artifacts that tell the story of a French monarch’s struggle with constipation.

King Louis XIV, who was suffering from constipation, had a commode built under his throne. He was a strange king as he wanted to eat in private but was willing to ease himself sitting in front of an audience in public. The museum, situated in West Delhi, has a replica of his throne on display.

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Bindeshwar Pathak, a social reformer, had established the museum with help from curators and professionals all around the world. According to IANS, Museum Curator Bageshwar Jha said,

It was established with objectives of educating and exploring historical trends in the development of toilets across the world.

Sanitation is one the important elements that signify how civilised a society is. Since open defecation is still a sad reality in most parts of India, it is surprising that Indians were one of the pioneers of toilets. Excavations at Mohenjo-Daro confirm the existence of common baths and private toilets in households. Toilet facilities have a long history, possibly older than that of the Roman Empire.

In the museum, artifacts are displayed chronologically beginning from Indus Valley civilisation and they provide insight into the humor pertaining to toilets habits. Shikha Verma, Assistant Curator in the museum, told IANS,

There was a time when ballets were performed with basket of night soil in the form of hood, on the head or a tin plate commode moving around with toilet sounds. The clothes were spotted with accessories from the toilet.

Talking about the collection they have at the museum and various people who gave unique items, Bageshwar said,

A few years ago, French artist Benjamin Zilberman gifted the model of Mr. Pee and Poo to the museum. A man named Giri Kumar from Andhra Pradesh sent to us a model of a convertible seat designed by him. The seat can be used both in the Indian and the western style, according to one's convenience.

The entry to the museum is free and it is open on all days except national holidays. Bageshwar's only concern is that hygeine of individuals and the entire community does not get the attention it deserves.

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