Ever heard of a person collecting matchboxes? You’ll be surprised to know that 25-year-old Shreya Katuri from New Delhi has a collection of 5,000 matchboxes.

The matchboxes in her repository come from across India and the world — Australia, the United States, Russia, China, and Sri Lanka.

It’s a collection that is as strange as it is fascinating, and Shreya’s quest to gather these mementos first began during her dissertation project in 2013, for which she worked on using a visual medium to analyse gender, religion and India as a nation.

“I decided to study matchbox labels as a form of popular culture. To get a deeper understanding of the contemporary boxes, I started collecting more recent ones.”

“That’s how my collection started. During that time I assembled some of the most interesting, quirky and heartwarming matchboxes. After a point, I was hooked.”

She built this assortment through contributions from her Instagram followers, as well as by picking discarded boxes off the streets, shops and even tapris.

And each has a story to tell — with the help of timelines and regions, she tries to analyse the cultural evolution of society.

Depiction of women was another intriguing subject that reiterated the concept of objectifying women by showing their cleavage on matchboxes.

Other fascinating depictions include Mickey Mouse, the vintage Ship (symbolising Mumbai ports), Saint Tulsidas, Sherlock Holmes Museum (London), Howrah Bridge (Kolkata), freedom fighters, the Mahabharata, Facebook and films like Mother India and Coolie.

Here’s a peek at a few more: