The Ziegenbalg House

A museum on intercultural dialogue in Tharangambadi

The Ziegenbalg House in Tharangambadi (Tamil Nadu) is a joint project of the Francke Foundations in Halle, the Evangelical Lutheran Missionary Organisation in Lower Saxony and the Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church (TELC) with the help of many partners. It is a place of exchange between the inhabitants (Hindus, Christians, Muslims) of the rural area and visitors from India and Europe.

The starting point for the project is the encounters between the Halle missionaries of the first Protestant mission and Tamil society. Extensive written as well as material sources have survived in India and Europe. In the Francke Foundations, they are now accessible to all interested parties in the cultural-historical archive and in the Cabinet of Artefacts and Natural Curiosities.

Current Projects

An »India cabinet« in the Wunderkammer and a »Germany cabinet« in the museum in Tharangambadi

An art project of the Art Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt

In 2019 we welcomed Asma Menon to the Francke Foundations. Together with the Art Foundation of the State of Saxony-Anhalt and organized by Jasmin Eppert, the project manager of the Museum for Intercultural Dialogue in Tharangambadi, we invited her to Halle for an exciting art project. For three months Asma immersed herself in the city, travelled through Germany and met new friends and old acquaintances. From the many encounters she chose objects for a »Germany cabinet« in the Museum for Intercultural Dialogue in the Ziegenbalg House in Tharangambadi. Her predecessors were the missionaries from Hall, who in the 18th century got to know the culture and everyday life in the then Tranquebar. Their (for the European view) worth knowing and curious discoveries they sent regularly to the Hallesche Orphanage. Here a whole »India cabinet« is part of the Wunderkammer. Inspired by this story, a »Germany cabinet« has now been created in Tharangambadi.

In front of the India cabinet in the Wunderkammer, Asma Menon presents the objects she has selected for the Germany cabinet in Tharangambadi.
Im Museum im Ziegenbalghaus in Tharangambadihat Asma Menon zwei Sammlungsschränke mit Kuriositäten aus Deutschland gestaltet.
A »Germany cabinet« in India? We asked Asma Menon why and how she collected.

The interview was conducted by Jasmin Eppert, 2013-2020 Project Manager of the Museum for Intercultural Dialogue in the Ziegenbalghouse in Tharangambadi

A cabinet of curiosities in Tharangambadi. Were you surprised about this project idea?
Growing up in a home and extended family, all the homes had a cabinet. The same was predominantly filled with porcelain objects, both antique and current. England, Japan {my grandfather had business with Japan}, Germany {my father's sister visited a few times}, Australia and New Zealand {my father had visited} and objects given as gifts by visitors, mainly from overseas, who were guests with us. The concept was not alien. The approach was.
When I heard about the cabinet, the first thing was to read about the history of cabinets via Wikipedia. Germany has a rich history of cabinets. On the aside, I did inform the Francke Foundations, that their cabinet was not listed on wiki and that must change to also include Tranquebar.

Would you introduce us to your family?
I am an Indian artist. I was born in an Ismaili family. Our Imam is the Aga Khan. Our family has been living in Madras for the past 125 years. By virtue of this, we are Tamilians. Originally, my ancestors came from across the Khyber and settled in Gujarat, near Rajkot. We are a very cosmopolitan family, with a lot of interfaith and global marriages. My great grandfather, Janab Poppat Jamal, was affectionately called Poppat Bhai by his friends, came to Madras to escape the severe drought that hit his village. He was a teenager then. He worked for the Stag Umbrella Company and later with Porr&Sons, in what is now called Myanmar.
My great grandfather was a respected member of the Ismaili Jamaat. He was a man of great vision. He worked hard and started a small business venture. His younger brother, Moti, and his cousin Zinna joined him in this expanding business. My father was the first born son of the second generation line. My grandmother came from the Padamsee family from Mumbai. Maybe the creative genes that my siblings and I share are on account of her. This was further encouraged by my parents.
I always wanted to become an artist. Formal education in arts started when I was around 10 years old, under the aegis of Balan Nambiar in Bangalore. (We lived in Bangalore from 1971 to 1977). Then, after school I joined the Government College of Arts, Chennai. At age 38, I went back to do my Masters in Art.

What was your motivation to go to Germany for three months?
This question is a misnomer, the motivation is the PROJECT. Not the country. The time frame also has no relevance.
When I first heard about the project from a fellow artist friend, who had other commitments and unable to be away for a prolonged period of time, I then requested, if I applied for the same, would it be okay. On the affirmative, I contacted Jasmin Eppart and spoke to her about my interest.
The collection, to create a Cabinet of Curiosities by a single collector is a pioneering one. I myself was excited and terrified, when the approval came for me to take up this novel, totally unchartered waters realm of work, what better, than to shake oneself up from the comfort zone of existing creative endeavours. It was exhilarating to say the least. Ahhhh the challenge to discover.
The journey was an important one, both metaphorically and physically, to experience a new landscape, culture, society, food, and on and on. It's the opening of the all the senses.

Which places did you visit in Germany? Which places did you like the most?
Arrived at Frankfurt airport , took a train with Jasmine to Leipzig. I started with Leipzig, Steudten, Uebigau, Delitzsch, Falkenberg, Liebenwerda, Naundorf, and visited  cities like Halle, Jena, Dresden, Bremen with Worpswede, Goettingen or Frankfurt. Each of the places had a charm of their own. There is no one place, I particularly liked over another. I must say that wherever I went, I looked forward to returning to Halle. As I looked at Halle as my temporary home, during my short stay.  And home is after all where the heart is.
The people of Halle are very welcoming to a stranger from an alien culture. At stores, people helped me read labels, showed me, how to punch a tram ticket. I was with people who showed empathy. In life it's not the big things that matter, it's the small gestures that build up a holistic relationship.
I have travelled trough Germany via train. The country is so well connect by their train service, all my trains were on time, down to the minute, except once at Gottengen, when a severe storm broke out. Trains have their charm, looking out the window, guessing who lives in the tiny hamlets. One can spin stories by just viewing the landscape. Yes, I enjoyed it.

How did the journey change your perception of another country?
Journeys are not to do with perception, for me at least. It’s to do with knowledge, educating oneself of life's myriad canvas. A jigsaw puzzle is preconceived perception, as with perception comes a pre disposed expectation. As i came to receive and absorb the newness of my environment, I embraced it and lived it to the hilt.
There is a sufi quote by RUMI ((1207 – 1273), a 13th-century Persian poet, Islamic scholar and a Sufi mystic, from Greater Khorasan in Greater Iran, who is one of the most read writers in Middle and Far East, South Asia and North America): »Dive today from the cliff of what you know into what you can't know.«

You’ve been working with children in the Krokosseum  in Halle. Was there no language problem?
I work with children in India. Being in Halle, I realized that the Francke Foundations has on campus a school, an afterschool centre and the children´s creativity centre Krokoseum. This was an opportunity to work with children who live in a culture, different from India and many of them coming from different cultures themselves or of mixed racial background. Thus, I met Friederike and informed her of my request to interact via a creative process. I took  workshops at the afterschool centre and the Krokosseum.
The first workshop was the kolam, a geometrical design of lines and dots connecting, decorated with colours and flowers {normally on festivals flowers are added}. With Diwali  coming, we made bags decorated with the lamp/diya. And basic tribal art forms from India.
Asita, Shian, Hasan, Sharmilla, Betasa, Camlin are some of the children, who came for my workshops both at the Krokoseum and the afterschool centre.
Children are children, full of beans and like to do fun activities. What was most notable, is the transition, being German, speaking the language and interacting on the same level. Having visited two homes, the children were equally comfortable in speaking the language, that their parents came from and rituals that belong to their foundation culturally. May they be able to maintain this balance as they grow.  The few times I passed Hasan on the road, he would always respectfully wish me with a SALAM ALEIKUM. And I accordingly.

Back to your collection assignment: Where and how did you collect them?
Wherever I travelled, my first objective was, I trust, to find a piece for the museum. Second hand stores in Halle were a treasure trove. I went every week to check if stock had been gathered afresh. Digging through boxes, after seeking permission, I have found nuggets.
The objects were chosen, as per the audience, ie Indian. They needed to see for lack of another word, a spectrum and that each object becomes a conversation piece.
From home to churches to transport to a way of life, different from India.
Easily, the wall plates, especially the Rosenthal ones. The smoking man from Seifen. The advent calendar from the Francke Foundations Store. And the icing on the cake is the contemporary apartment block that is also a clock.

What is »German« to you after your journey?
What is German. I visited and experienced some slices of Germany. Mostly what was once East of Germany, the former GDR. Now of course, too, far east has become west.
Germany as any country are the people, here, the ones I interacted with first, I could have a conversation. A grounded view to family, I made a friend, time, precision, a place for things. The new multicultural ethos that is unfolding, via the children I worked with. They are the future.
These are my personal views.


For one year, Mercy Rethna was with us in Halle as a federal volunteer. She worked on the website, lectured on India and was regular at the Krokoseum Children’s Creative Centre and the After-School Centre. On facebook she gathered a whole fan community around her posts about Germany and India. Read some of her topics here:

My Indian year in Germany


You have all become Indians, I recently said with a smile to my German colleagues. I am Mercy, I come from South India and work as a federal volunteer in the Francke Foundations. I am currently experiencing the Corona crisis in Germany and through my family in India. I am very sorry that the German culture of embracing has now disappeared. People keep a lot of distance and sometimes I think I am in India! We in South India welcome each other with Vanakkam. We put our hands together in front of our chest and bow slightly. This actually fits very well for the time of the contact block. We only shake hands at official meetings. It is strange for me to maintain social distance in the place where I learned to be very social. If we meet once on the street, we greet each other with Vanakkam! I would be very happy.


Fairtrade! I had never heard of this concept before I came to Germany. When I recently bought a dress and India was on the sign as the country of production, I was a bit shocked about the price. I know that the cost of living and also the wages in India are much lower than in Germany, but I would never have thought that the clothes are still sold so expensively in Germany. Cotton suppliers in India, together with the seamstresses in the factories, get the least money in the production and supply chain: not so with the Fairtrade concept. In this concept, all the people involved in the production process are paid appropriately. Indian workers can thus send their children to school and pay their bills. In most cases Fairtrade products are more expensive than conventionally produced products, but shouldn't it be worth it? I think so and I hope that the Fairtrade concept will be expanded even further!

Cows in the zoo

Have you ever seen bulls that simply walked around your house in Germany? In India you can usually see cattle and goats running everywhere. Sometimes they sit on the road and block the vehicles. Then we wait until the owner comes and pulls them away. To my surprise, I have never seen a bull or a cow on the street in Halle or any other city in Germany, only once in the zoo. Here it is a zoo animal or a farm animal living in a barn or inside a fence. In India they live with us. We have a special festival called Pongal in Tamilnadu. For 3 days we celebrate the harvest. One whole day is dedicated to decorating and celebrating the cattle. On this day there is also in many places the bullfight Jallikattu, which has been a tradition with us for over 1000 years. The person who manages to control the angry animal is the winner. So cattle are always connected with our life in India. I miss them here and wonder every time I have to pay entrance fee to see them.

Wash your hands please!

Wash your hands! Because of the Corona pandemic, this poster is now hanging in the entrance area of the convict where I live. Since March we have been washing our hands before we go up to our floor. Since then I feel even more at home here. In India, it is part of our cultural tradition to always wash our hands and feet before we enter a house. There is a bucket of water and a mug in every entrance. This is how I learned to do it as a child. When we come back from a hospital, a hairdresser's or a funeral, we cannot go directly into the house, but have to wash ourselves through the back entrance to the bathroom first. Our bathrooms are always in the back of the house. Even today many Indians still practice this. We young people have always asked what this is all about. We have not attached any importance to it. Now I understand that our forefathers already denied harmful microorganisms from entering the house in this way. And now this piece is available at home also in Germany! That is a nice feeling. Stay healthy!

Of the electricity and the dignity of humans

Could you cook with candles? In Germany I only experienced a power failure once this whole year and even then only for a few minutes. In India, the newspapers say when the electricity is switched off. But you can't plan anything with that, because there are often spontaneous power cuts for a few hours, sometimes even for a whole day! People in Chennai still remember the storm Vardah in December 2017, when a whole district was without power for 14 days. Can you imagine 14 days without electricity, even in a capital city? Here the sun rises every day around 6 am and sets at 6 pm. We lived with candles, the cooks in our dormitory cooked without light for us. Fortunately we had a gas stove. In my Konvikt in Germany we would eat cold food for 14 days, because here everything works with electricity. That is risky, I think. After all, you can't cook with candles! Back then we ate in the dark and sweated all night because the fan didn't work either. In Tamilnadu it is usually around 40 degrees Celsius and we turn on the fan or the air conditioning as soon as we enter our house. When I came to Halle, I looked in vain for an air conditioner in my dorm room. There was a heater for it. What did you need it for? I was amazed and learned to love the heater in winter!

I appreciate the fact that the electricity supply in Germany is so stable because I know it differently from India. We should not take everyday things for granted but appreciate them. Maybe you are even willing to support projects that promote electricity supply in poorer countries? All people need electricity for light to work and learn.


Wasser! Es ist jetzt ein Jahr her, dass ich nach Deutschland gekommen bin und ich habe noch nie Probleme mit der Wasserversorgung gesehen. In Chennai, Indien, wo ich 5 Jahre lang gearbeitet habe, war dies nicht selbstverständlich. Es gab viele Vormittage, an denen wir kein Wasser zum Duschen hatten, weil der Lastwagen mit dem Wassertank an diesem Tag nicht gekommen ist. Selbst wenn man über Wasserleitungen im Haus verfügte, so war das Wasser manchmal braun gefärbt. Ich erinnere mich noch daran, dass es in meiner Kindheit auf den Straßen Wasserpumpen gab, bei denen die Frauen in einer langen Schlange anstehen mussten, um das Wasser zu holen. Jetzt haben diese Pumpen auch kein Wasser mehr . Wir verwenden Mineralwasser als Trinkwasser und Salzwasser für andere Zwecke. Auf diese Weise habe ich die Schwierigkeit gesehen, die mit einer richtigen Wasserversorgung verbunden ist. Nicht nur ich, sondern fast jeder Inder hat das Wasserproblem schon oft selbst erlebt. Wenn man reich ist, kann man sich Mineralwasser leisten und sollte es für alle Zwecke verwenden. Natürlich ist das Problem die große Bevölkerung des Landes, aber warum ist die Qualität des Wassers so schlecht? Es gibt keine Antwort, da sich die Verantwortlichen den Fragen nicht stellen. Deshalb war ich erstaunt, eine so gute Wasserqualität in Deutschland zu sehen und auch, dass es direkt aus den Leitungen entnommen und verwendet werden kann. Es ist so spannend, ein Land ohne Wasserprobleme zu sehen. Es war, als käme man in eine neue Welt mit genügend Wasser für alle!

The German order

Already Ziegenbalg, the first German missionary in India, embodied the typical German sentence: »Everything is fine«. He found the Tamil language with its many characters very beautiful, but saw the problem that the language could not be learned well by outsiders without a precise procedure. So he wrote the first grammar books in which he explained the structure of the Tamil language. This is one of the many examples that shows how much the Germans love structure and order. Another example of order, however, which is interpreted as a rule, is the fact that Germans always fasten their seat belts when they drive. They do not always do it voluntarily, but the prospect of fines makes them buckle up. I have also noticed that Germans have a lot of insurance. Many insurances are important, but there are certainly insurances that you don't necessarily need. But this kind of order in the form of insurance is also typical for Germany. Order is useful in many areas and regulates an orderly coexistence. In some cases, however, Germans could be a little more relaxed and should not take everything so seriously.

Mask obligation

On Sunday I went for a walk again after a long time. I put on my mask on my mouth and walked to my friends. Germans are always tidy and I learned that you have to wait at a red light until it turns green. In India you would never cross the street like that! But here it is important, I know. But now I saw many people who did not pay attention to that anymore. I stared at them and they still just went to RED. If the Germans had changed their habits, I thought about it and kept walking. On the street towards the market place I saw many people. Nobody was wearing a mask. In India we now have to pay a fine if we do not wear a mask when we leave the house. Here people were staring at ME now - because of the mask.

I have two suggestions: I walk across the street like I do at home in red, no problem. We all wear a mask to protect our fellow men. No problem, right?

I miss India

Do I miss India sometimes? Yes, of course, especially when it comes to chance meetings and conversations with people. For example, whenever we are bored or alone in India, we can just go to our neighbors' homes and talk to them, relax, have a coffee or even have dinner with them. Even if I happen to pass by the house of our relatives or friends, I can always go there spontaneously and visit them. But here in Germany it's completely different: You don't just go to a neighbor's house for no reason. To this day I can just call my friends in India and talk to them for 3-4 hours, even if it's midnight with them. Here I can also talk to my German friends, but you never know if they still have an appointment or a date that day. I don't want to have to arrange a time with my friends first if I'm not in a good mood or just want some company. I need my friends to be available for me at any time, just like it is in India. I have the feeling that this is a big difference between the two cultures.


How long does it take you to call someone your friend? When I came to Germany, everyone was very nice to me. The first week after my arrival I got a guitar to play, a nice mirror, jackets and many, many important things from my colleagues that would be necessary for my stay this year. I had already met many students from my konvikt, they encouraged me a lot later and I started writing poems, became independent, made my own decisions and tried everything that is cool. Because everyone was very nice to me, I thought they were all my friends! When we meet once or twice in India, we are friends and in a few months we will be best friends. But here? After my 3 months in Germany I realized that Germans need a lot of time to think about whether a person is a friend or not. I did a lot of research and got the answer that it takes 2 years to become a friend (but now I am only here for one year), until then I could be an acquaintance (for me, a person I meet on the street could be an acquaintance). Now I ask myself, how long will it take you to find out best friends? Whatever the result of your considerations will be, I think I have many friends now. Even you who are reading this. For all of them I have a health tip from India today: if you have a scratchy throat and cough, gargle with a cup of hot water mixed with 3-4 tablespoons of salt. Do this 5 times a day for 3 days and you will have no more pain. We do this mostly at home in India to prevent getting sick. So let us be friends!

About caring

What's the matter? What happens to the toilet paper? When I came to Germany, I was very surprised to see that my German colleagues and friends take very good care of nature, the environment and their fellow men. They follow the laws, keep their distance and wear masks on the streetcar. In India no one rides a bicycle, here I see many people in the city on bicycles, whether young or old. Many have a garden or balcony where they tend to their plants. I only know this at home from some private homes. For me, vegan food was also new in Germany. From India I only know vegetarians or non-vegetarians. Everyone here is always attentive when they buy eggs from free-range husbandry and not from barn management. I was also surprised how much people took care of me. Because of the pandemic I could not return to India in time. Nobody leaves me alone, even in the crisis. My colleagues call, we go for a walk together, they invite me for dinner or bring me a piece of cake. And now I'm afraid that the Germans in the Corona period will become headless after all. Whenever I go into the store, I can't find any more toilet paper! I wonder if they don't think about how many trees were cut down for the paper now? Don't they care now whether it is enough for their fellow human beings?

Have you managed to buy a pack? Please sell me a roll.

Christine Bergmann's paintings on schoolgirls in South India

Results of the working scholarship Halle-Tharangambadi of the Art Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt

The artist Christine Bergmann from Halle travelled to Tharangambadi in September 2019 thanks to a grant from the Art Foundation of the State of Saxony-Anhalt. The painter hoped that the stay would have an influence on three of her fields of interest: Colour, architecture and traditional handicrafts, especially concerning textiles. The trip was initially intended as an inspiration. On site, she conducted an art course with children in the Goatskin Museum about pop-up cards and met some of the young women from the region again in the school classes on an artistic quest. She talks about her journey:

Artistic developments do not necessarily go hand in hand with conscious objectives according to the motto »Now I'll do exactly this and that for 3 years«. Thematic changes simply happen or crystallize and you as an artist look over your own shoulder. This is how I felt with the increasing preference for girls and women in painting even before the India Scholarship. I had a vague idea that the trip to India was a motivic solution to »something« that I could not easily find in Europe.

On a dusty country road children go to school

The opportunity to work with primary school children during the scholarship already offered an uncomplicated and quite natural entry into »artistic industrial espionage«. I was particularly taken with the young schoolgirls, who with their school uniforms, monkey swings and colourful ribbons shaped the street scene everywhere, especially in Tharangambadi, where there are as many pupils as inhabitants.

The artist Christine Bergmann stands in the middle of a girls' school class

The girls are of course like all teenagers in the world: shy and curious at the same time and in the end they like to be cheeky and a little bit cheeky. But I didn't want to chat up the girls on the street to take pictures of them. That seemed unseemly to me. So I asked Jasmin Eppert that we visit the local girls' school with 1,500 pupils.

Group photo with artist: Christine Bergmann with a girl school class

However, I had not guessed that we would end up attending all classes »so that the others would not be disappointed« as the teacher explained to us, who introduced us in each class. One class spontaneously grew especially close to my heart with an obviously very popular class teacher. Jasmin Eppert impressed the girls with her Tamil. Sensational was the moment when Jasmin told the girls of a class with blue ribbons on Tamil that I would love her hair ribbons so much and totally spontaneously a choir of 60 girls shouted out loud: »Thank You Ma`am!« - Oops, I've never seen myself as »Ma'am« before.

The travel impressions of Christine Bergmann can be read in her travel blog (in German). In summer 2020 she showed her paintings, which were created after her encounters with the school girls in Germany (oil on canvas), in an exhibition at the Historic Orphanage.

Painting of Christine Bergmann with school-girls in South India

Stefan Schwarzer: Tharangambadi Reports

Results of the working scholarship Halle-Tharangambadi of the Art Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt

A white garden chair, good coloured pencils and paper that suits the country. That was all it took for Stefan Schwarzer's stay in Tharangambadi, South India. For a month he drew the houses of the small town on the South Indian Ocean, talked to the people and wrote a diary every evening. The source of inspiration for the conversations were the reports of the missionaries of the Danish-Halle Mission, published in the »Hallesche Berichte«. And so Schwarzer asked himself through the people what they like to wear most, what the weather is like and what they live on. In his book »Tharangambadi Reports« he published the conversations and related them to the historical sources. Together with his drawings, a wonderful picture of the »City of Singing Waves«, as Tharangambadi is translated, was created, bringing the history of the place into the present.

Drawing sheet with shape and colour studies

Diary entry 05.10.2019

Barefoot I walk through the main entrance gate of the temple, which is decorated with colourfully painted figures of gods, and look at the merchants sitting along the way [...]. Again I walk through an even bigger gate and enter a new area of the temple, which consists of long colonnades. Overwhelmed by the colourfulness of the ornaments and architecture, combined with the volume of many drums and wind instruments, I feel a great interest in drawing here. Following a family procession, I walk through a third gate [...]. Now I enter a large hall with a monumental portico in the middle. [...] There is an intense smell of burnt wood, incense and other resins. All my senses are flooded simultaneously. I spontaneously sit down on the floor and begin to draw colourful fragments of the surrounding shrines. As if in a trance, fragment by fragment, I immerse myself in this atmosphere. At times, people who observe and question me stand next to me. When I present the finished drawing, it is torn from my hand and is passed around in the group in astonishment. Crumpled up, I get it back.

Stefan Schwarzer is drawing in his white garden chair, a motorcyclist stops and talks to him.

Diary entry 11.10.2019

I've been walking around the village for days and increasingly recognize the daily routines of the inhabitants. For example, a milk vendor on his motorcycle usually rides down Queens Street around ten o'clock. At this time also the beggars I already know do their rounds. Fleeing from the rising sun, I move my plastic chair closer and closer to the wall behind me. Only when the sun completely irradiates me, I finish, almost burning my work.

In the afternoon I walk along a construction site on Mosque Street with my plastic chair. Surprised, the construction workers watch me. In front of a bright yellow and green painted mosque I find a shady place to draw. In the shimmering midday heat I get into conversation with an older man. He is the imam of the local mosque. While the goats graze in the sun nearby, another man dressed in white addresses me friendly. His name is Sultan. He is the owner of the »Danish Shop« on the market street and a passionate city historian of Tharangambadi. Interested in meeting him, I ask for his contact details.

Crayon drawing by Stefan Schwarzer from the series Tharangambadi

Diary entry 16.10.2019

In Goldsmith Street I discover a dilapidated traditional Tamil house. Since it is not raining at the moment, I boldly place my chair in the middle of the street and start my drawing. The collapsed tiled roof allows a view of the bamboo trunk roof construction and the brick walls. On inquiry I learn that this house was abandoned by its inhabitants after the devastating tsunami in 2004. I too leave my place in a hurry because the first raindrops fall on my paper. Fortunately, I discover nearby the covered entrance of a house that was built after the tsunami. From here I can draw relaxed and from a good position. From minute to minute the rain becomes more intense and I slide my chair further and further into the garage. [...] At the same time I also get to know the neighbour who comes from Nepal. Recently he bought a house directly at the sea, without fear of another tsunami. [...] On the way back I don't recognize Goldsmith Street. The street has now changed into a »Goldsmith Reservoir« and I stomp carefully through ankle-deep water.

Crayon drawing by Stefan Schwarzer from the series Tharangambadi

G. GANESHAN, 59 years old, tea seller

What is your connection to Tharangambadi? This is my home town. I was born here. What is your life in Tharangambadi? I had many difficulties in the past, but now my life is better because I have my own tea stand. What is a normal day like for you from morning till night? Every day I wake up at 3:00 a.m. I prepare hot milk for tea first. First, many fishermen come to have tea and then go fishing. Afterwards I don't have many customers. When it rains in the morning, the fishermen don't go out to sea, so I don't have many customers at my tea stand. What was the situation after the tsunami disaster in 2004? After the tsunami many fishermen lost their homes and had a lot of problems. But for the other people here it was even more difficult because they did not get any support from the government. Many lost their homes and all their belongings due to the tsunami. [...] What about the educational opportunities and the future for young people in the village? Both boys and girls go to St. Johns Primary School together from first to fifth grade. From 6th to 12th grade, girls go to the Catholic St. Theresa's School and boys to the Protestant TELC Bishop Johnson School. After their schooling, some of them travel abroad with the help of agencies to attend university or to work there. Popular countries for this are for example Singapore or Malaysia. [...] What was the most extraordinary encounter you had with your clients? During the »Diwali Holidays« last year, a few tourists came to see me. While they were drinking tea at my stand, I spontaneously invited them to my home for dinner.

Stefan Schwarzer sat on the stairs of a bright yellow house and drew.

Diary entry 24.10.2019

Minutes later I continue my way and meet numerous students in their different school uniforms. Some recognize me and greet me in passing. In the drizzle I reach the Marktstraße and sit down under a balcony, protected from the rain. In front of me the morning rush hour traffic chugs, squeaks, honks and hisses on the potholes of Marktstraße. The shutters of Sultan's »Danish Shop« are still closed. I am quickly approached by attentive passers-by. One of them is called Vijay and is a young fisherman. Immediately next door I notice a building with a gas station. The petrol is sold here in plastic bottles by the litre and poured directly into the tanks. Around 9:00 am Sultan opens his shop and waves greetings to me. A little later I meet a photographer who runs a studio nearby. I learn about his time as a member of the Indian army, and we arrange to meet again. Sultan returns and is very pleased with my drawing.

What happens since 2017?

The Ziegenbalg-House becomes a museum

A film journey to Tharangambadi

On the way between Burgkirchen, Halle and Tharangambadi, documentary filmmaker and photographer Heiner Heine captured the big moves of the museum project. Nine short films offer the unique opportunity to visit the museum thousands of kilometres away and to learn about its history.

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With Drums and Garlands

Every year, there is a parade commemorating the arrival of the first Lutheran missionaries Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg (1682–1719) and Heinrich Plutschau (1677–1752) in Tharangambadi. The 310th anniversary thus formed the adequate context to inaugurate the museum project, in presence of the director of the Francke Foundations. A historical moment celebrated with drums and garlands.

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It began in Tranquebar

After their arrival in Tranquebar, Ziegenbalg and Plutschau started an exchange with the local people based on due respect and heartfelt interest. It was the beginning of an intercultural dialogue between the India and Europe. Here you find an insight into that history.

The Sky Above Tranquebar

310 years after the arrival of the first Lutheran missionaries in India, Jasmin Eppert is assigned to coordinate the museum project in Tharangambadi. Until spring 2019, she will live and work in the small South Indian town. She reports about her work and her life abroad.

Back to Old Glory

The Indian National Trust of Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Pondicherry, realised the restoration of the Ziegenbalg House, within four stages of construction. The executive engineer and the architect of the Indian conservatory organisation talk about the challenges of preserving and restoring the historical structures of the Ziegenbalg House.

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Made in India: Printed in Tranquebar

The people coming to the museum undertake a pilgrimage to visit the craddle of Indian printing in Tharangambadi. The printing exhibition so far is the most vivid and most interactive part of the museum and is highly appreciated by visitors from far and wide.

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The Land of the Singing Waves

Tharangambadi, also called Tranquebar, at the Eastern coast of South India, witnessed the first Lutheran mission abroad, more than 300 years ago. Nowadays, this intercultural museum project preserves that memory of the past for the present and the future. Jasmin Eppert and the people living in this small town guide through Tharangambadi. »the Land of the Singing Waves«.

The restoration of the Ziegenbalghaus is a cooperation project of the Francke Foundations, the Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Auswertigen Amt, the Evangelisch-Lutherischer Missionswerk in Niedersachsen and the Evangelisch-Lutherischer Missionswerk Leipzig.