Famed depository working to bring over 2,500 artifacts in one place by the end of 2022
Hyderabad’s famed Salar Jung Museum, which boasts the largest one-man collection of antiques and art treasures in the world, is setting up more than 2,500 rare Islamic artifacts currently displayed in various parts of the museum, as well as some that have never been showcased in public will find a place in this gallery. At present, these treasures of Islamic art are scattered over various galleries under Indian, Middle Eastern, European, and Far Eastern art collections.
The exclusive Islamic art gallery will present all these forms of Islamic art in one place.
The Islamic art gallery was to open much earlier. Still, the work was affected because of Covid-19. In an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times, the unavailability of skilled labour only added to the problem, Dr. A. Nagender Reddy, director of Salar Jung Museum. However, the work has been expedited now, and the gallery will be ready for inauguration by the end of 2022, he added.
The art collection at Salar Jung Museum is so huge and varied that only three other museums in the world — the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum (both located in the United Kingdom), and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York – can rival it. Salar Jung Museum is the second-highest revenue-generating museum in India, next to Kolkata’s Victoria Memorial. The Islamic art gallery is expected to increase its footfall further.
The idea of having an exclusive Islamic art gallery germinated when as many as 413 Islamic artifacts from Salar Jung Museum became the centre of attraction during the ‘Glimpses of Courtly Splendour,’ an exhibition of Indian Islamic art held in Sharjah, UAE, in 2009.
An exclusive gallery for Islamic Art
Spread over 26,000 square feet on the second floor of the museum’s eastern block, the Islamic art gallery will showcase such artifacts as swords, ceramics, body armours, manuscripts, Persian carpets, copies of the Holy Quran, celestial globes, astrolabes, textiles, jades, porcelains and glass objects with Quranic inscriptions and much more. Though most of the things relating to Islam, some have links to Muslim kings and nobles, poets, writers, and historians, too. Among the items that will be a feast for the eyes are the oldest folio of the Quran on a parchment in the Kufi script belonging to the ninth century, a copy of the Holy Quran from the 13th century, 365 copies of the Quran in Kufi, Naskh, Nastaliq, Raihan and Thuluth scripts. Six astrolabes and celestial globes, salient emblems of Muslim science, a miniature book stand (rehal) in jade with the name of Shams ud-Din Iltutmish (the Delhi Sultanate ruler belonging to the Mamluk dynasty), a fruit knife with a jade hilt and inlaid with precious stones belonging to Queen Nur Jahan, archer rings of Mughal Emperor Shahjahan, which are in dark green jade, and autographed manuscripts with the seal and signature of Mughal emperors Akbar and Aurangzeb.