A Goan family goes on a Europe visit and comes back with some 250 different types of crosses collected from 8 different countries. This, 8 years back, was the beginning of their cross collection. Which then got generous additions from the Goan Christian community. As they started exhibiting their collections, more and more people started sending them crosses from their personal collection. Mahendra Alvares, the head of the family and founder of the Bigfoot Cross museum today has upwards of 1500 crosses with more being added on a regular basis. I was told that this is one of its kind collections in the world.
Cross Collections at Bigfoot Cross Museum, Goa
At the entrance of the museum stands a tall cross with spaces carved out to keep Deeps or oil lamps. Two powerful symbols of the two dominant communities of Goa merged and represented as one symbol. I thought it was quite innovative.
Inside there are vertical cases that hold various crosses. If you visit on your own, you would probably walk past them. But if you are escorted and explained, there is a wealth of knowledge hidden there. Look at the materials they come in – from twigs tied together to intricately carved ones to scary ones made of small skulls. In terms of material, they were in wood, in various metals, in stone, in cloth and in a combination of them.
Types of Cross
I later visited the website of the Cross Museum and discovered the explanation for many types of crosses. The simplest cross without any corpse is called Latin cross or the Protestant cross. The reversed cross is St Patrick’s cross and the one in the shape of letter X is St Andrew’s. There were very native crosses painted in bright colors over wood with folk motifs. There is even a cross, inspired by Lotus petals deriving from the Indian mythology. Crosses are classified and arranged in the panels. A look at their web page tells that each region, each native culture around the world designed their own symbol within the definition of a cross. Like defining their own identity within the universal identified symbol.
Crosses can be seen on the road intersections, in the streets and in most public places in Goa, in a way becoming the symbol of the state. Some legends behind some of the public crosses are listed on the website. So, it was time someone paid a tribute to it by curating a museum of Crosses.