According to the ticket – “At present, the museum has in its collection the art and antiques of European, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern origin, apart from the chronicles of the rich Indian heritage – dating from the Mauryan to the Mughal Dynasty and the rule of the Nizams. Navab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan, Salar Jung III, the last patron of the family is responsible for the maximum collection and preservation”. Well, that says it all.
Salar Jung Museum is perhaps one of India’s largest and well maintained museums, and it is located in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. The collections kept in this museum are a treat to watch and a photographer’s delight, had photography been allowed inside the museum. Sadly, photography isn’t allowed inside! This museum even has a cafeteria and well maintained toilets. Its needed, because casual browsing takes 3-4 hours and if you want to read through information and go through the exhibits slowly, it will take 5-7 hours!
There are six galleries (each containing multiple rooms, each with a different theme), three in the ground floor and three in the first floor that are open for public viewing. There is even a multimedia presentation hall with two plasma TV’s and regular screenings are held at certain times of the day.
I thought the First Floor Eastern block was the most interesting (and visually pleasing) – There were four galleries here – Chinese Gallery, Japanese Gallery, Far Eastern Porcelain Gallery, Far Eastern Statuary Gallery. So, if you have only one hour – just visit this section.
Some useful information I gathered in this Museum:
- The earliest form of writing which has been properly deciphered, studied and interpreted (in India), is the script of the Mauryan period – Brahmi.
- Metalware was used in India from a very long time ago – One bronze figure of a dancing girl belonging to the 3rd Millennium BC was recovered intact from Harappa excavation.
- Commonly used metals in Ancient India were copper, brass (alloy of copper and zinc) and bell-metal (alloy of copper and tin)
- Earliest surviving examples containing works in silver-ware and precious metals (in the Indian sub-continent) dates back to 50 years before Christ. They were found in a Buddhist site near Jalalabad, present-day Afghanistan.
- Even though silver is/was expensive, at one point of time in India, even the eating plates of the middle class families were made of silver.
- Buddhism was officially recognized in China, as early as 1st Century AD. Along with Buddhism, Taoism (whose followers worship nature and mysticism) formed the mainstream religions of China.
- The word Samurai in Japanese means ‘Military retainer’. Samurai, as a class, came into existence from the eleventh century in Japan with the weakening of the imperial Govt and rise of warrior chief’s in provinces who recruited people who were known for their physical courage and prowess. The Samurai’s were known for their fierce loyalty to the master and also as peerless warriors who used to consider the sword as their soul. The Samurai tradition in Japan lasted from 11th Century AD to as late as 1868 AD.
- Chinese blue and white porcelain is the most famous (and most widely adapted) porcelain in the world. It combines the porcelain technology (which was discovered in China around 7th Century) and monochrome painting on porcelain with bold and colorful brush work.
- Miniature paintings were quite popular in India (between 15th and 20th centuries). They were smaller paintings done on palm leaves/ paper that are not hung on walls but held in hand to observe keenly.
- A type of Chinese ceramics that were called Celadon-ware, were quite popular because they were believed to possess the property of detecting food poisoning by splitting or breaking when they came into contact with poisonous food. It was later found that there was no scientific basis for such a belief and perhaps people who brought Celadon-ware purposefully spread the belief in order to dissuade prospective poisoners.